movie reviews

Digging for Fire

by Cap'n Carrot on August 28, 2015 · 0 comments

in Film

digging-for-fire-posterMiddle-age apathy is the major theme of Digging for Fire as a husband (Jake Johnson, who co-wrote the screenplay along with director Joe Swanberg) and wife’s (Rosemarie DeWitt) separate weekend plans while on vacation let each work through the listlessness of their shared existence and eventually find their way back to each other. It’s a story that’s been done several times, sometime much better (like Massy Tadjedin‘s 2010 film Last Night) and more often far worse (any number of middle age brain-dead romcoms).

More archetypes than fully fleshed-out characters, neither Tim nor Lee are all that interesting. Tim is your typical mid-life crisis male wanting to spend time with old friends and recapture lost youth. Lee is worried about the future, her marriage, and loosing her sense of self under the weight of marriage and parenthood. Johnson and DeWitt give the characters a bit of a spark but it’s Tim’s unusual obsession with finding a bone and old revolver buried in the back yard of the home where the family is staying that proves to give the movie something unique to explore, if not something terribly original to say.

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Mistress America

by Cap'n Carrot on August 28, 2015 · 0 comments

in Film

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Written and directed by Noah Baumbach (and co-written by the movie’s star Greta Gerwig), Mistress America is an uneven comedy that has a tone and feel more befitting a stage play than even an independent theatrical release. That’s not to say it should be easily dismissed. Despite its issues, when the film gets it right it gets it just right (such as an extended sequence in a yuppie suburban home where the quick-hitting back-and-forth dialogue finally hits on every note). Taken as a whole, Mistress America is neither as good as its brightest moments or as bad as it valleys where the lack of laughs exposes just how thin a story Baumbach is working with.

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American Ultra

by Cap'n Carrot on August 21, 2015 · 0 comments

in Film

american-ultra-posterThe tail end of the summer movie season is pretty much a crap shoot. While I was pleasantly surprised with the under-appreciated The Man from U.N.C.L.E., director Nima Nourizadeh‘s stoner-action comedy is more what I’ve come to expect from this time of year. American Ultra isn’t a bad film, but it’s not all-together a good one either. A hodgepodge of ideas from both better and worse movies, American Ultra is an occasionally enjoyable B-movie mess.

Jesse Eisenberg stars as stoner convenience clerk Mike Howell with a girlfriend (Kristen Stewart) too good for him, friends (most notably John Leguizamo) just as mentally-challenged, and a brain full of secret CIA training which has been locked away for years until the most over-the-top Topher Grace ever captured on film decides to have Howell killed by agents that make the bad guys in Hudson Hawk look like Bond villains.

Activated by the former leader (Connie Britton) of the project, Howell soon finds himself with the ability to instinctively kill in a variety of bizarre ways without ever understanding exactly how, why, or what he’s doing. Dumb, but at least it looks cool on camera.

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The Man from U.N.C.L.E.

by Cap'n Carrot on August 14, 2015 · 0 comments

in Film

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Two things are immediately evident from watching Henry Cavill in The Man from U.N.C.L.E. First, there’s no disputing that the man is a bona fide movie star. Despite having issues with some of the projects he’s chosen (such as Zach Snyder‘s horrific re-imagining of Superman), there’s no doubt Cavill has “it.” Second, based on his appearance as con man turned super-spy Napoleon Solo, it’s obvious that he would make a terrific James Bond balancing the swagger and inner-bastard of the character with aplomb. Not since Connery have we seen a character like this on-screen.

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Still Craptastic

by Cap'n Carrot on August 7, 2015 · 0 comments

in Film

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The first pre-screening I ever attended as a critic was 2005′s Fantastic Four. It was, in retrospect, a brutal right of passage. One would hope that after a decade full of comic book films (the good, the bad, and everything in-between) 20th Century Fox would have learned their lesson and seen fit not to unleash such a travesty onto an unsuspecting movie-going audience yet again. One would be wrong.

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Adapted from Mitch Cullen‘s novel A Slight Trick of the Mind, Mr. Holmes is an intriguing, if flawed, idea offering audiences a look at the retired detective fighting senility while struggling to remember the details of his final case decades before. I say flawed because despite a terrific performance from Ian McKellen removing the keen intellect from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle‘s Sherlock Holmes also removes the character’s most definable trait leaving only a hollow shell in its place.

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Minions

by Cap'n Carrot on July 10, 2015 · 0 comments

in Film

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When I learned of a Despicable Me sequel starring only the Minions I was skeptical. Although hugely popular, how do you give a full-feature film to the oddball supporting characters who speak only a mishmash gibberish language and who had been used mostly for comedy relief (with heart) in both Despicable Me and Despicable Me 2?

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Terminator: Genisys

by Cap'n Carrot on July 3, 2015 · 0 comments

in Film

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He told you he’d be back. Given the crippling disappointment of Terminator Salvation, which if not for the existence of A Good Day to Die Hard would unquestionably be the worst action sequel ever made, it’s inconceivable that somebody thought making another Terminator movie was a good idea. No less shocking is the fact that Terminator: Genisys, despite several plot points and awful title, is actually fun.

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Jurassic World

by Cap'n Carrot on June 10, 2015 · 0 comments

in Film

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For the first time in 14 years we get a new entry into the Jurassic Park franchise with Jurassic World. Far from a reboot, Jurassic World takes place in the same world as the previous films (and even has a few homages to the original), although no human characters return. Jurassic World doesn’t stray far from the template of the previous three films (and not nearly as much as I’d like recycling the same themes already well-mined by the franchise), but it does offer a new twist or two to give the latest sequel a fresh feel.

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San Andreas

by Cap'n Carrot on May 29, 2015 · 0 comments

in Film

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It’s hard to make either a great or truly awful disaster movie. Even setting out to craft memorable disaster porn (unless it’s centered around a completely ridiculous premise like sending oil riggers into space) is a challenge. Bucking the trend of world-ending disaster films where characters are fighting asteroids, a new Ice Age, or the core of the Earth disrupting all life on the planet, San Andreas is a bit of a throwback focusing just on California, and, for the most part, San Fransisco. A more localized disaster doesn’t have the doomsday cache of something like 2012 but San Andreas turns out to be a far better film.

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