movie reviews

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How does a movie based off an amusement park ride end up with four sequels? Taking a page out of the book of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the latest entry into the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise goes back to the beginning to try and recapture the magic of its best film. Although it delivers not much more than a pale imitation of Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, borrowing heavily from every major plot point, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales is easily the least shitty sequel in a franchise that knows something about shitty sequels.

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Baywatch

by Cap'n Carrot on May 25, 2017 · 0 comments

in Film

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Based on the 90s television show not good enough for network television which earned a following in syndication by providing soap opera style plots that often had little to do with the characters’ actual jobs of lifeguards, comes a new feature film version of the franchise. Dumb, almost entirely forgettable (I can’t name a single plot from the show either), and mostly an excuse to put beautiful people in swimsuits and have then run around on-camera, the movie is exactly what you’d expect.

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When I first heard that Guy Ritchie was going to direct a King Arthur movie my reaction was that this could well be the worst idea for a movie I’d ever heard. By that standard, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword is actually better than I expected. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a full-on trainwreck in innumerable ways, but it wasn’t altogether unwatchable. (Let’s see them work that ringing endorsement onto the poster.)

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Less ambitious than the original film, the sequel to Guardians of the Galaxy attempts to focus a bit more on relationships and family while, of course, still leaving plenty of time for hijinks and misadventure. As he proved in Guardians of the Galaxy, writer/director James Gunn is right at home with the later, but if the sequel has a major weakness it’s that more subtle emotion isn’t his forte.

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the-dinner-posterWriter/director Oren Moverman‘s film, based on the novel by Herman Koch, is a claustrophobic acting exercise that would seem to be more at home on stage than in a movie theater. The film centers around four unlikable people brought together at a ridiculously posh restaurant discussing, or rather talking around and avoiding discussing, events of recent days concerning a horrible act committed by the two couples’ teenage sons. The more time we spend with the two couples and their sons the less likely we are to care what happens to anyone involved.

Our cast includes Congressman Stan Lohman (Richard Gere) and his second wife Katelyn (Rebecca Hall), the politician’s brother Paul (Steve Coogan), a former teacher suffering from some form of early-onset dementia, and his wife Claire (Laura Linney). Other characters come and go including various wait staff (Michael Chernus, among others), Stan’s ex-wife (Chloë Sevigny), and the politician’s aides (most notably Adepero Oduye), but everyone aside from these four core characters (including the flashbacks to the boys themselves) prove to be superfluous to the plot.

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How did this franchise manage eight films? When The Fast and the Furious was released in 2001 to mixed reviews I doubt anyone foresaw the series generating seven sequels. Following in the path of the previous films, The Fate of the Furious is a pretty dumb film that provides entertainment mostly through the more ridiculous pieces of its plot (and let’s be honest, it’s all ridiculous).

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Colossal

by Cap'n Carrot on April 14, 2017 · 0 comments

in Film

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Anne Hathaway stars as Gloria, an unemployed alcoholic who is forced to move back home to her parents’ abandoned house after her boyfriend (Dan Stevens) kicks her out. Back home, she reconnects with childhood friend Oscar (Jason Sudeikis) while struggling not to fall back into old patterns. All the pieces are here for an entertaining dramedy focused on Gloria, her questionable choices, and the people in her life. However, writer/director Nacho Vigalondo has something far more unusual in mind.

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Donald Cried

by Cap'n Carrot on April 7, 2017 · 0 comments

in Film

donald-cried-posterCreating an small independent movie centered around two generally unlikable characters presents some problems. In Donald Cried, Peter Latang (Jesse Wakeman) returns to his the home town he’s avoided like the plague for more than two decades to deal with the the recent death of his grandmother. With no other family in sight, and having lost his wallet somewhere along the journey, Peter is forced to enlist the help of his old friend Donald (Kris Avedisian). Hoping to squeeze some cash and a ride to the funeral home from Donald, Peter is quickly guilted into spending the entire day with the odd man.

A glimpse into Donald’s sad life only exacerbates the situation and makes it harder for Peter to extricate himself from the clingy Donald, even after leaning that for the past few years Donald had been masquerading as Peter at his grandmother’s retirement home.

The strength of Avedisian’s film, who wrote, directed, and saved the choicest part for himself, is we can see all these situations playing out in real life. Donald is a quirky loner, but knows how to use that to his advantage.

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Power Rangers

by Cap'n Carrot on March 31, 2017 · 0 comments

in Film

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Boy, is this movie dumb. Imagine mashing up Breakfast Club with Suicide Squad, removing Margot Robbie, casting an even worse version of the Enchantress, and then inexplicably throwing Voltron and the Dinobots in at the end, and you might understand what you are in store for with Power Rangers. I have no attachment to the 1990s television show Mighty Morphin Power Rangers in which five teens from the same town find magic alien discs and fight various monsters (mostly pulled from stock footage of Japanese shows) every week to protect their home of Angel Grove, California, and felt lost early on in the gradually intensifying insanity.

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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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