Movie 411: Mr. Right

Directed by:

Paco Cabezas (Penny Dreadful)

Screenplay by:

Max Landis (Victor Frankenstein)

Rated: 

R

Release Date: 

April 2016

Genre: 

Action, Rom-Com

The Hook:

Honestly, I realized this DVD was getting checked out a lot and decided to check it out. For whatever reason, I didn’t really read what it was about prior to hitting play.

The Review

Okay, as I mentioned, I went into this one blindfolded. Mostly. When I read the blurb on Netflix, “A girl falls for the “perfect” guy, who happens to have a very fatal flaw: he’s a hitman …,” I couldn’t not watch it. The premise seems similar to Grosse Point Blank, but not exactly, you know? And I love John Cusack in that movie (well, most of his movies). And the story on that one was entertaining. So, yep. Decided to give it a shot. And Anna Kendrick hasn’t let me down.

The Plot . . .

All right. So I mentioned to plot, or at least the blurb, and that really says it all. Martha McKay has just gone through a bad break up. It seems like she has a bad habit of picking the wrong guys and she realizes this. It’s your basic rom-com plot. One of the standards anyway. On her way home, she stops into a quick mart and that’s when Mr. Right sees her and makes his introduction. Flirty banter ensues, an invitation to get some drinks, there’s dancing and drinking, and immediately crashing out as soon as she/they gets back to her place. The start of an unconventional, sort of relationship is underway when she finds out her perfect guy is a hitman for hire.

Like I said before, your typical rom-com plot. It’s just so hilarious that in this case the flaw of said perfect guy is that he kills people for a living. What is also hilarious is that it’s a comedy. I like it. It’s different from your standard romcoms.  And really, you have romance and comedy and action rolled into one. It’s a deadly combination for someone who loves action and loves a good romcom. Kudos in my book for sure.

. . . and Presentation

 

There’s a certain balance that needs to be had when you’re dealing with a shoot-em up kind of movie. The right mixture of comic relief tied in with moving the story along tied in with the shoot-em up part can be tricky to pull off. It wasn’t a problem in this film. I liked the way the story unfolded and at the pace in which it unfolds. There was just one part for me that seemed to drag just a teensy bit for me and that was the succession of scenes directly following Martha’s break up. Just a teensy bit, mind you. Dialogue and deliver smoothed this over for me.  To me, dialogue is key in any type of moving picture entertainment and this one meets that standard. It’s witty and delivered well by both Sam Rockwell (Mr. Right) and Anna Kendrick (Martha). They did such a good job. The chemistry didn’t seem forced. Add to it great the great side characters of Tim Roth (Hopper) and RZA (Shotgun Steve) and you’ve got a pretty good movie. Truthfully, RZA’s part was small when compared to the other bad guys–James Ransone (Von Cartigan), Anson Mount (Richard Cartigan), and Michael Eklund–but his character did make the heavy shoot-em up scenes comical.

The Verdict

I don’t think I’d add this to my library. Don’t get me wrong. I love this movie. I know I’d definitely watch it again. But I don’t think I’d watch it enough to justify adding it to my collection. It is a really good movie to watch at least once. It’s funny, it’s interesting, it has some action, some romance. Win-win if you’re asking “should I watch it?”

 

Photo Credit: Google Play

Movie 411: The Great Wall

Directed by:

Yimou Zhang (Hero)

Screenplay by:

Carlo Bernard (Prince of Persia), Doug Miro (Prince of Persia), and Tony Gilroy (Rogue One)


Rated: 

PG-13

Release Date: 

December 2016

Genre: 

Action, Adventure

The Hook:

Nothing really. Just action, adventure, and the need to catch a movie.

On a quest to hunt down black powder, a group of mercenaries find themselves caught in the desert lands hunted by nomads. Their party of four is quickly cut down to two people when something attacks them. A day later they find themselves at the Great Wall (of China, in case you’re wondering), the violent nomads at their backs and a whole army in front. Taking their chance with the army at the wall, these two mercenaries find a whole lot more than black powder.

The Review

This was another of those movies that weren’t exactly on my to-watch list, but in need of something to do this was the number one choice. And it made for a fun evening.

The Plot . . .

Very interesting story. Cough it up to the history buff in me mixed with the myth and legend side of me and you have the me that totally geeks out. That’s what this story was. As I admitted, this movie wasn’t exactly one I was dying to watch (and I’m admitting it now. Asian movies is that particular genre that I have to be in the mood to watch. They just aren’t my cup of tea, so to speak) but the idea of a myth or legend explaining the Great Wall of China did appeal to me. And I’m don’t know much about Chinese myths and/or legends so wether or not this particular myth is unique or not, I cannot say, but I did like the concept of it. An elite army defending all of China not agains the Huns, but . . . other things, is just fascinating. It seems a unique and original story, at least to me. It’s the first movie I’ve seen, or even heard about, that addresses a myth or legend about the Great Wall so . . . high marks in my book.

. . . and Presentation

The portrayal of medieval China (I’m taking a stab at the era and I know I’ve probably made an incorrect guess, but I’m too lazy to look up this fact right now. I have an excuse. I’m typing this through a headache) was amazing. The costumes, the weapons, the personality. I loved it!

Matt Damon (William) and Pedro Pascal (Tovar) worked well together. And I’ll be honest, I wasn’t too sure about Matt Damon starring in a Chinese-ish movie, even though he was playing the part of European mercenary. And I’ll be honest (times two), I really hope to see more of Pedro Pascal. He did a great job playing the comic relief and the added tension to the plot.

Tian Jing (Commander Lin) was brilliant! I haven’t seen her act before this and she did such a good job standing up with actors like Matt Damon and Willem Dafoe (Ballard). It was nice to see this dynamic.

Action shots were well done. Not too fast and not drawn out either. It moved the story along nicely and kept things interesting. Great work!

The Verdict

If we’re talking a must watch, yes. This movie definitely is a must watch. If we’re talking about a must add, that’s a tougher one. I think this is worth adding to your movie arsenal. It’s a great action flick, the plot is unique, and the acting isn’t horrible. It’s a great movie for those kinds of nights (or days, or whatever) when you have no clue what to watch. I think it’s worth the investment.

Photo Credit: Impawards.com

Movie 411: Star Wars, Rogue One

Directed by: 

Gareth Edwards

Screenplay by

Chris Weitz and Tony Gilroy

Rated: 

PG-13

Release Date: 

December 2016

Genre: 

Sci-Fi, Action

The Hook: 

Um, because it’s Star Wars

Summary

Members of the Rebel Alliance decide to steal the building plans of the Death Star after finding out there may be a design flaw that could destroy the weapon. Intel is questioned when the source is known to be an Empire scientist who helped build the weapon.

The Review

All right. I’m just going to come out and say it. This one wasn’t on the top of my list of movies to watch in the theater. Don’t get me wrong. I respect the Star Wars franchise. I may not love it as much as others who are die-hards in this fandom (like, from the beginning beginning and not just in this past decade), but I do enjoy the movies. It just isn’t on the top of my list because there are other movies I wish to see on the big screen and this one I am good with waiting for the DVD or Netflix to pick it up.

That said, I am so glad I did watch it on the big screen because this is my favorite one yet.

The Plot . . .

I have to say that I appreciate this story line in the franchise. It’s the event that set things in motion. Though I don’t think that’s entirely accurate when you consider that it really has nothing to do with the conversion of Darth Vader and such. That part of this universe was in motion before this so allow me to rephrase. This event turned the tide for the Rebel Alliance and fills the gap between Episodes 1, 2, and 3 to Episodes 4, 5, 6. Anakin is already in Darth Vader mode, but Luke and Leia haven’t really entered the picture yet (for those of us who need to get our bearings  in this world because we aren’t die-hard Star Wars fans. And please feel free to correct me if I’m not quite getting it either). Rogue One revolves around the Rebel Alliance stealing the plans from the Empire so that Luke can blast at the Death Stars vulnerability and–ka-boom!–that is the climax of Episode 4: Star Wars. This story gap is brilliant. Who doesn’t love a good underdog-in-your-face kind of story? I mean, we all can guess what happens, but it still makes for an exciting adventure albeit a tragic one.

. . . and Presentation

I feel Garth Edwards is genius in his execution. He added his mark on this franchise and deserves all the accolades tossed his way. Weitz and Gilroy did a great job translating this story into a script Edwards brought to life. The story moved along at a steady pace and I felt the character introductions were done nicely and the plot points were well placed. Intense scenes were balanced with humor and I couldn’t help but admire the way things came together. This coming from my mind where I kind of knew what the ending would be and yet couldn’t help but watch, cheer, and get all pumped when our team accomplished its mission.

Of course, picture and story mean nothing without a cast who can carry the storyline to completion. Felicity Jones (Jyn Erso) did such a good job in this leading role. I haven’t seen her before this film so I can’t compare with past performances, but I can’t wait to see her in Inferno (which is on my list of theater-going movies because I am a huge fan of Robert Langdon, of the books–not that Tom Hanks isn’t doing a good job portraying this beloved fictional character of mine. I digress). Diego Luna (Cassian Andor) also does a good job acting Jones’ opposite. This duo did a good job leading this story and their chemistry blended well with Donnie Yen (Chirrut), Wen Jiang (Baze), and Alan Tudyk (the voice of K-2SO. And he did a great job for a robot voice. Great job meaning he brought personality to this robot voice and the comedic timing and tone on his lines were on point. So there.). Appearances by Forrest Whitaker (Saw Guerrera) and Mads Mikkelson (Galen Erso) added just the right touch to move the story along and give us fans more characters to . . . appreciate.

The Verdict

It is definitely worth the investment to add this to your library and I know that goes without saying (and not even a question) for this fandom. As I mentioned earlier, this one has to be my favorite one in this saga. It may be because I find this one the different from the rest. Unique. A divergence of the original story line (sort of). But that would be irrelevant if it weren’t for the way it was brought together so kiddos to Gareth Edwards and his production team for giving us another one to add to our library.

Movie 411: X-Men, Apocalypse

img_8831Directed by: Brian Singer (X-Men, X-Men 2)
Screenplay by: Simon Kinberg (X-Men: The Last StandX-Men: Days of Future Past)
Rated: PG-13
Release Date: May 27, 2016
Genre: Action, Adventure
The Hook: X-Men.
I may have mentioned this before, but I’m not really a comic book reader. I have nothing against them (although I think I did in my silly youth), I just don’t really read them. But, I have been a fan of X-Men since the 90s cartoon was on air and I can’t tell you how awesome it is to see the various story lines play out on the big screen.
And while some X-Men movies were better than others, I am happy to see the franchise still going.
The Plot Summary: There’s a new threat in town. Someone who calls himself Apocalypse. And this Apocalypse is said to be the first mutant. And it is said that he “gifts” extra powers to four people who calls themselves The Four Horsemen. And all this is coming from someone we met before; someone whose memory was conveniently erased. And Xavier visits this someone; this someone who gives him this information. And Eric is chosen as one of the Horsemen.
The Review:
I like this story line. I appreciate this story line. I like what they did with it. And this is coming from someone who doesn’t really know Apocalypse so if you didn’t like the story line and found it lacking because you know the origin of this story line, sorry it wasn’t up to snuff. It was for me.
Let’s talk cast of characters. There are so many actors and actress in this franchise to go into a critic of each one would lead to a ridiculously long post. Even if I decide to focus on the core characters this post could get long-winded. There wasn’t anyone I found sorely lacking so if I were to look at the overall acting, it was well done. Everyone. James McAvoy (Xavier) and Michael Fassbender (Magneto) are still doing their thing, still on par with their bromance of sorts. Jennifer Lawrence (Raven/Mystic) is always awesome. I love that we see Kurt Wagner/Nightcrawler (he’s my second favorite with Remy Lebeau as the favorite) and Cody Smit-McPhee was awesome. I love the return of Quicksilver (Even Peters) and I hope he’s around for the rest of the franchise. We see young Jean Grey (Sophie Turner) and Jubilee (Lana Candor) and the Summers brothers (Ty Sheridan/Cyclops and Lucas Till/Havok<–And I love that we see Havok, if I had to choose which of these brothers were my favorite, it would be Havok).
As I said, there was a slew of characters. Those were just the few I’m bouncing around in my brain.
And the presentation. Graphics were awesome. Nothing too fancy or over-the-top, well, as much as you can get with the world ending. You know? I love the Magneto bubble and how everyone’s powers were displayed. I love how they portrayed the battle of the minds and the actual physical battle. It was pretty awesome. The camera work didn’t distract and moved the story along nicely. I love the flow of it. It was a Marvel Movie. Through and through.
And then story. As I mentioned earlier, I liked this story. I don’t know Apocalypse’s origin story or how he interacted with the beloved X-Men. I vaguely remember an episode or two with Apocalypse, nothing concrete, just whispers. But I liked the idea of The Four Horsemen and the first mutant story. I liked how the X-Men were drawn in. First with Eric and then with Charles. I mean, I know these two are opposites but I love the push and pull of their relationship. The dynamic between these two have been nicely played out and I am loving it. The introduction of the next-gen X-Men was also nice to see. In some ways, it feels as if the story line took on too much, too fast, but it didn’t feel that way. It just felt natural so much props to the screenwriters for keeping an even flow of things. I can’t wait to see what they think of next. The story line could end here, but it could also continue (especially with Weapon X!).
The Verdict:  A must watch if you’re an adventure fan, a comic fan, a movie fan. Seriously. It’s good for most ages (of course, the little ones should stay home due to the jumps and scares that come natural in an action-adventure). It is a must add for any movie buff looking to build their collection as well.
**Favorite Scene** 
Naturally, Nightcrawler’s intro would top the list since I’m bias, but there is one scene that scoots by in a photo finish and that would be Quicksilver’s save. It’s a happy/sad moment (and you’ll see why when you watch it) but the action sequence, the graphics, and the touch of humor added to that scene was . . . beautiful.
Photo Credits: IMDb
Stats: IMDb

Movie 411: The Big Game

Blog_TheBigGameDirector: Jalmari Helander
Screenplay: Jalmari Helander
Story credits: Jalmari Helander & Petri Jokiranta
Rated: PG-13
Released: June 26, 2015
The Hook: You know how there are some movies that someone suggests watching and they don’t sound fascinating, but then you get a little curious so you decided to give it shot?

So, yeah. This movie. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but then there are a lot of things out there you don’t know what to expect and you just jump, two feet in, you know?

Recap!

The US President is traveling in Air Force One from some place to another place. Same time this is going on, a small hunting community is going through their “rites of passage” tradition. A boy is becoming a man. And they do this by sending him out by himself to hunt down prey and bring it back to the tribe.

Well, Air Force One is attacked and the President is ejected and finds himself in the same woods the boy is doing his hunting. The boy finds the President’s ejection pod and since there really isn’t anyone with the President and he has no idea where he’s at, the boy decides to drag him along.

Of course things get interesting when the attackers are hunting down the President, in the forrest, when they didn’t expect it.

Verdict!

The plot is certainly interesting. A boy-becoming-a-man is hunting, hoping to bring back something good so he can be excepted as a man, but ends up helping the President of the United States stay alive. I admit, I had a hard time processing the fact that a boy could actually bring the President to safety. I mean, really? Is that possible? But, my mind justified it as “it could happen.” There are traditions in which this type of “rites of passage” happen. I can imagine it happening in smaller, mountain communities. Far from “city-folk” and in these circumstances it was. And while a lot of things that happen may be written off as lucky, well … it’s not impossible. Plus, the other way I could justify it is home field advantage. They boy knows the woods. He may not be good at it, but still. It’s his home, you know?

For being one of the main characters, Onni Tommila did a great job! He was, of course, acting along side Samuel L. Jackson, but he held his own. I would say that sometimes he came off as a bit stiff? but it wasn’t a distract and, as I said, he held his own. Ray Stevenson and Mehmet Kurtulus did a good job as bad guys. It really was these three to four characters that occupied the screen for a good 80% of the movie so I’ll leave it as that. There are other familiar faces as well and they all added to the depth of the story, but the main line really did focus on these four.

Camera work, presentation, action sequences … all were done pretty good. They weren’t off the charts, but t was good work and enjoyable. And I feel the need to mention timing. The movie did move slow at some points, but it wasn’t enough to get me irritated. It was just enough to make me think it.

I like this movie. I wouldn’t go so far as saying I love it, but I did enjoy it. It kept me entertainment for almost two hours. I don’t think I’ll add this to my library, though. It’s one of those movies that I’d stop to watch if I were channel surfing, but not enough to get me looking for it, you know?

 

Photo credit: cgmagonline.com

Movie 411: Point Break (the new one)

Director: Ericson Core
Screenplay: Kurt Wimmer
Story credits: Rick King, W. Peter Iliff, Kurt Wimmer
Rated: PG-13
Released: December 25, 2015
The Hook: I just had to compare. You know?

Ah,  Point Break. I have to admit, I was skeptical with this reboot. It’s hard to hear “reboot” when you really enjoyed the original so, yeah, skeptical. You know, I’ve been feeling skeptical of a lot of movies lately, hugh? I guess it’s that kind of year.

So, I went in with an open mind because that’s how you are supposed to watch a reboot (Mostly. Ok, kind of. Ok, ok, you know you’re secretly scrutinizing everything!).

Recap!

For those of you who missed the 1991 Point Break, where have you been?! Go watch it! Go watch it right–after reading this review.

Enter Utah. Extreme sports enthusiast. I’m talking hard core. Dirt biking on mountain tops kind of thrills. Well, on one of these field trips, he and his friend tempt fate one too many times and he looses his friend. So, he turns his back on that world. Gets a job in the FBI. Turns out the FBI is on a bizarre string of crimes. The suspects are playing at a Robin Hood kind of game, except using their talents as extreme sports participants. Utah, looking over some of the case files, takes a stab a theory. It’s the kind of theory that we average sport enthusiast can kind of wrap our heads around, but kind of not. Anyway, he presents this theory to his supervisor who then authorizes him to do some recon … that escalates into non-recon levels.

Verdict!

So, we’ll start with story.

I think the overall story is something to think about it. The Robin Hood angle has been done before but it was interesting to see it play out on the back drop of extreme sports. I mean, you’re talking about wingsuits, rock climbing to extreme heights with no safety gear (I mean, not even a parachute! That’s just crazy! No, not crazy. That’s INSANE!), snowboarding off jagged kind of cliffs, … INSANE! Now, we have the Robin Hood angle, which is commendable, but there’s also another plot angle that I find intriguing as well. The reason behind these crazy stunts? Well, I don’t think it’s worth the risk, but I get why some people do. Maybe, not so much as I get why they do it, but I understand where they’re coming from (is that the same thing?). I mean, will you find peace if you come through all these crazy challenges? And there are seven of them. And will it mean the same thing if you claim fame for finishing it? I’m not saying they would do that, but accomplishing these death-defying acts will gain attention of everyone who is a part of this world. What precedent will that set? Most will say I’m overanalyzing this and I probably am. I’m just trying to justify the risk against the reward. But back to the point. The story was okay. It was a different angle and I appreciate that. And I cannot help but feel that the ending was kind of like, “That’s it? That’s how it ends?” The ending gave some closure to the plot, but it didn’t feel like closure.

Up next. The acting. To be honest, I’m not quite sure what to make of it. It wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t amazing. I mean, with Ryan Reynolds as Deadpool you can’t help but get excited at the fact there is no way you can see anyone else as Deadpool. I just didn’t feel that kind of buzz with this cast. I’m not sure what it is exactly. Now, that’s just me. It was good enough not to distract from the story, but I couldn’t help but feel that some of the chemistry felt forced. Luke Bracey and Edgar Ramirez were amicable on screen, but there never seemed to have that charisma that just comes together. Maybe I’m too much of a Keanu Reeves fan (don’t be hating!), but I’d like to think I’m fair. I’m stopping here because I’m rambling! And haven’t mentioned anything really about the acting ;).

That leaves cinematography. The stunts were awesome. It really was. The angles, the landscape cuts, the close-ups and pans, it all came together really nicely. I really did feel like I was flying in those wongsuits or peering down from my perch against the mountain. They were amazing! And the camera work on this film helped balance out the rest of the elements. 

I don’t think I’ll add this one to my library. I’ll probably watch it again, just to give it a fair shake (sometimes it’s better the second through, right? Right?!), but I’d rent it or catch it when it comes out on Netflix, probably. Maybe. But, you have to watch it at least once. The stunts … epic. Just saying.