Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Beauty and the Beast (Live Action) Review

It seems the real magic of Disney is their ability to separate people from their money.  This time, rather than crack that Disney vault so every soccer mom in the country rushes to grab a Bluray of Beauty and the Beast, they got mom, dad, and their 2.5 kids out to the theater this weekend by remaking the movie entirely.

Of course it isn't the first time they've done this.  Last year the Mouse raked in an obscene amount of green with The Jungle Book in addition to the pallets of money they already get from having brought Marvel and Star Wars inside the castle.  They've also done Pete's Dragon, Cinderella, and a pseudo-Sleeping Beauty with Maleficent, and pretty much everything in the rest of the animated library is slated for its own live-action remake in the next few years, all of which are certain to go forward given this had record-breaking hauls this weekend.

Now I'm no fan of musicals so normally this isn't the kind of thing I'd go to see no matter how many people threw their money at the box office and raved about it afterwards, but I did grow up with the Disney animated movies so I hoped maybe this version of Beauty and the Beast had just enough of a nostalgia factor to get me over that hump.  After all they claimed they were trying to be extraordinarily faithful to a movie that I liked as a kid, even if it weren't my favorite, so that seems like a win-win, right?

Well, it turns out that some things simply can't be overcome by nostalgia alone. Let me explain:




Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Kong: Skull Island Review

As something of a giant monster myself, it was a foregone conclusion I'd get out to see Kong: Skull Island opening weekend.  Unfortunately, the last time my hairy friend got to appear on the big screen, he was murdering innocent dinosaurs just because some cute blonde showed him she could juggle.  Given what Hollywood has done to Godzilla in the past, I can't really blame the guy for that, so I had high hopes he'd find some redemption in this one.

From the trailers, it certainly appears they learned something from the painful slog that was Peter Jackson's King Kong, since it looks like my man gets to throw down early and often with everything from pesky humans to Godzilla-wannabes, with nary a dinosaur in sight.  Speaking of Gojira, that's actually the polar opposite of the last Godzilla movie, which I enjoyed thoroughly but was received poorly by a lot of people for not having enough Bryan Cranston or kaiju on kaiju action. 

So does this second entry in the giant monster movie universe Warner Bros. is putting together finally strike the right balance between characters and epic monster fights? Ehh, not so much.  Check out my review for more:




Thursday, March 9, 2017

Logan Review

When I first heard about Logan, needless to say I was skeptical.  Fox's history with superhero movies is not exactly stellar, and while some of the X-men films are at least watchable, they're still largely terrible movies, never mind good adaptations of the source material.  The fact that their second attempt at Deadpool openly mocks their first version is proof enough on that score, and Fox had to be dragged kicking and screaming into making the new one.

However, we can all agree that Hugh Jackman's portrayal of Wolverine was the shining light of the X-men movie universe, even if his previous two solo outings kind of sucked too.  Everyone likes him so much they even shoved him into X-men Apocalypse's CGI-fest to try and put something in that movie worth watching.  (Fun fact: X-men: Apocalypse was my first review on Youtube, and boy did I have plenty to be cranky about.)

After that stinker tanked, we heard Logan was going to step through the R-rated door opened by Deadpool. "This one is gonna be good," they said, "This one it's going to have all the bloody carnage that a guy with knives between his knuckles should cause.  It's even set in the future where he's old!"

So, did we end up with another Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice-style attempt to cash in on a trend? No, we got something damn near Oscar-worthy.  Let me tell you about it: 




Saturday, February 25, 2017

The Great Wall Review

Other than the obvious Trump jokes, just about the only thing that put The Great Wall on anyone's radar is the controversy over Matt Damon playing the lead. As usual, many people were up in arms that a white guy got a role in an Asian-centric movie.  Never mind that he's playing a white character that wanders into Asia looking for black powder and runs into a giant wall and the massive Chinese army staffing it, so it's not exactly like he stole a role from an Asian actor.

Of course had the complainers bothered to note it's a Chinese studio making the movie, they wouldn't have had much reason to whine in the first place since it's the Asians making the call, and doing so for the specific purpose of getting their first big breakout film in the US.  What better way to do that than cast a superstar like Damon and split the movie's time between him and its Asian characters?

There are however still plenty of good reasons to trash The Great Wall, and surprisingly none of them involve those goddamn Mongorians from South Park. Let me tell you about some of them:



Tuesday, February 21, 2017

The LEGO Batman Movie Review

Like John Wick, The LEGO Movie was also an incredibly pleasant surprise.  It looked like it was going to be some shameless attempt to sell toys (it was), but it turned out to be an incredibly funny and well-written film that did incredible justice to the little plastic blocks.  Anybody who grew up playing with LEGOs got to delight in seeing all the interesting ways they used familiar pieces to build things in this world.  And it gave us a brand new Batman.

LEGO Batman was so well received that they decided to give him his own full feature, which as with John Wick: Chapter 2, made me pretty nervous.  In small doses this semi-parody of Batman is really funny, but I worried that trying to drag that out into a full couple hour movie would just get old and repetitive. Still the trailers looked promising, so did The LEGO Batman Movie deliver?  Let me tell you all the ways everything was in fact, awesome.



Monday, February 20, 2017

John Wick: Chapter 2 Review

John Wick was an incredibly pleasant surprise.  It's an action movie where you can actually see the action, and it built an incredibly interesting underground world of assassins that gave the whole thing a cool new feel.  Plus it has one of the single-best character introductions of all time, making their hero look like the ultimate badass before he even does anything. Then when he actually does things, he looked even more badass thanks to Keanu Reeves putting in enough work to do his own stunts.

That's why news of a sequel made me super nervous.  John Wick was a perfectly reasonable standalone movie, and those tend to be the ones that make for the worst sequels since they have to invent convoluted reasons to not only do another one but also to try and raise the stakes in some way.  Usually what you end up with is just an unsatisfying, messy retread of the previous movie.

So the question is, did John Wick: Chapter 2 fall into that trap?  Well, let me tell you:



Wednesday, January 25, 2017

xXx: Return of Xander Cage Review

It's not often you get a sequel 11 years after the last movie, especially if that last movie was itself a sequel nobody particularly wanted and that turned out to be absolutely awful. Yet, we have xXx: Return of Xander Cage anyway.

Though I'm sure it was intentional way back when that people might confuse xXx for some kind of porn thing, it was actually just a sort of mishmash between James Bond and the X-games.  When the first xXx movie came out, Extreme Sports had become a pretty big fad, and Hollywood is always looking for something good to cash in on, so they created a movie wherein your typical 00 was just too stuffy and uptight to tango with the hardcore adrenaline junky criminals of the 21st century. So, to combat the new threat, Sam Jackson had to go find somebody a little more edgy.  Enter Vin Diesel, a world-famous anarchistic rebel with a penchant for crazy stunts and fur coats.

That original movie was pretty fun overall, but it really didn't have the legs for a franchise, and despite Diesel refusing to sign on for the sequel, they made one anyway, which in any other universe would have been the end of that, but I guess somebody wrote Vin Diesel a big check because he and his fur coat are back with a bunch of new hip faces for another bite at the apple.  So was xXx worth resurrecting? Well, listen to my review and together we can count all the ways that no, no it was not: