Thursday, October 19, 2017

American Made Review

Continuing in our series of "why the hell haven't you put a post up for your latest review yet, Cranky??", we have American Made, a comedic biopic starring Tom Cruise! This one is based on the "true story" of Barry Seal, an airline pilot who got roped into running guns and drugs for the CIA back in the 70s and 80s. That's certainly more innocent sounding than the guy probably was in real life, but hey it's Hollywood, what can you do.

It's been quite a year for trailers since this was another one that got me into the theater. Maybe it's just that I've been on the lookout lately for just about anything that isn't a comic book movie or sequel to something I know that I can check out, but in any case, the trailer looked like some goofy fun, and generally I like Tom Cruise as an actor, so I took a flier on it. Pun fully and completely intended.

For the most part I was rewarded for my decision, but while this isn't a Mummy-level catastrophe, it still didn't really live up to its premise. Let's talk about why Tom Cruise couldn't run hard enough to save this one:

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Kingsman: The Golden Circle Review

Kingsman: The Secret Service was one of those rare movies that turns out to be a pleasant surprise. It looked like it was going to be a dumb, goofball parody of a Bond movie, and the studio buried it in the winter months, which means they probably agreed. And yet, it turned out to be a really enjoyable send-up of the spy movie genre that worked just as well on its own as it did as a parody. It had a great sense of humor and some fantastically inventive action sequences, and pretty much everybody loved it.  Naturally any movie that turns into a sleeper hit like that gets a sequel, and so now we have The Golden Circle.

Sequels tend to make me nervous because they're tricky things to pull off, and most movies that get them really don't need them because they've told a self-contained story with character arcs that are finished at the end. So coming back for more usually involves ham fisted reasons to simply repeat everything you saw in the last movie. It ends up just being more of the same, which as we all know tends to get old quickly.

Kingsman, on the other hand, seemed like it had the potential to be a franchise. While it did have a self-contained story, it set up a universe and a character that could continue to evolve if the people making it were clever. Since they had already delivered a movie that demonstrated they were, I was hoping they'd find a way to build a sequel that didn't succumb to the "more, bigger, louder" impulse.

Unfortunately, I was wrong. Let's talk about how Kingsman: The Golden Circle became everything Kingsman parodied before and a bit of a bait and switch to boot:

Thursday, September 28, 2017

American Assassin Review

As I continue to catch up on getting reviews posted to the blog, here's a little movie that popped up a couple weeks back called American Assassin.  This is apparently based on a book series that I unfortunately haven't read so I can't comment on how well it was adapted, but essentially they want this character Mitch Rapp to be your new Jack Ryan.

This is another one where a trailer actually got me into the theater.  It had a reasonably interesting premise: a guy decides to personally go kill every terrorist he can find after they murder his fiancĂ©, and in the process he runs into professional terrorist-killer Michael Keaton, who as these things go runs a secret terrorist-killing unit for the government and is forced to train Rapp to do it the right way.

The main danger with that kind of trailer is of course that Keaton could be nothing more than a glorified cameo in a bad B-movie.  Fortunately he wasn't, but unfortunately, it's not enough to save this movie from mediocrity. So let's talk about why American Assassin made me cranky::

Thursday, September 21, 2017

The Defenders and The Orville Reviews

Well I've been pretty lax lately about putting up posts for the reviews on the blog.  Blogger makes it somewhat of a pain in the ass so it tends to dissuade me, but in any case I have two TV shows to talk about with you all for this one.

First up is Marvel's new Netflix show, The Defenders, which teams up all the heroes from all their other Netflix shows.  Of those, the only one I genuinely enjoyed from start to finish was Jessica Jones, but Daredevil wasn't too bad.  Iron Fist had a few good secondary characters, but otherwise just kind of sucked.  As for Luke Cage, well, I had plenty to say about that one already.

So how does putting them all together stack up? Not well, I'm afraid:

And then there was The Orville, Seth MacFarlane's personal Star Trek fan fiction/parody/homage.  The trailers for this thing made me cringe, but as a huge Star Trek fan myself, I had to at least give this one a shot.  Sadly it too made me very cranky:

Friday, August 25, 2017

The Hitman's Bodyguard Review

It's tough taking fliers on movies like The Hitman's Bodyguard that don't have pre-existing history backing them up, which is why so many movies today are sequels or comic book adaptations or reboots.  With those you at least have some idea of what you're getting, with all these other one-offs, you're basically just going on whatever they put in a trailer, and half the time the trailers turn out to be a problem anyway because they're either incredibly deceptive or they spoil the whole movie.

That is of course assuming you even see the trailer since the trailers for these movies tend to get buried under the latest big thing from Marvel or DC/Warner Bros. So it's tough to build any kind of hype or momentum for these kinds of one-off action flicks, but despite all that, in this case it was indeed a trailer that got me into the theater.

Seeing Ryan Reynolds and Sam Jackson's back-and-forth in the first trailer for this piqued my interest, even though the overall plot sounded pretty stupid.  So since there was yet another weekend at the tail end of the summer without anything else of note coming out, I figured what the hell, I'll check it out.

And for once, I was not disappointed.  Let me tell you all about why The Hitman's Bodyguard proves we can still have nice things that don't feature some giant shared universe:

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Dunkirk Review

Anyone who has followed me for a while knows I'm not exactly a big fan of Christopher Nolan, and yet I was pretty interested in his new film, Dunkirk. I'm not sure why since Nolan has a track record of failing to live up to the hype, such as with Interstellar.  Interstellar got me super psyched since it was such a cool concept and I'm a space geek, but the movie itself is just straight up laughable when it isn't boring as hell.  So you'd think I would've learned by now.

I guess it's just because Dunkirk is about one of history's greatest turning points. 300,000 mostly British soldiers stranded on a beach with the full might of the Nazi war machine closing in on them. The fate of the entire Western world hinged on whether or not they could cross a body of water so small they could practically see home from the shore. Their saviors? Ordinary British civilians who got in their little boats and sailed across the channel to rescue their countrymen, going back and forth for a week just to get all those guys out. What a fantastic story to tell, and one we really haven't seen done before on the big screen.

You would think having such a stirring historical event as the basis for this movie would make Nolan's job easy, but as with many of his movies that get all the hype, in the end he just couldn't deliver. Let's talk about why Dunkirk unfortunately doesn't measure up:

And if you'd like more on Dunkirk, check out this week's episode of The Flyby, the weekly podcast that I co-host with Sarjex, wherein Ed Morrissey joins me to talk about where this movie succeeds and where this movie fails.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Spider-Man: Homecoming Review

Well Spider-Man: Homecoming was certainly one of my most anticipated movies of the year. Sony finally returned Spider-Man to the Marvel Cinematic Universe for an epic cameo in Civil War, and now we were going to get a full on standalone story for this new Tom Holland version of the wall crawler done MCU-style.  Add in Michael Keaton playing the villain, and you've got plenty of reasons to be hyped.

That of course made me super nervous going in.  I wanted this to be an Independence Day-level movie, the kind that I'd want to turn around and walk right back in for another viewing, and it's tough for a movie to live up to that kind of hype.  Not to mention it had to follow the few fantastic comic book movies we've already had this year and there have been serious concerns that the trailers may have spoiled the entire movie.

Alas Independence Day it was not, but as I've said before, even the less than stellar Marvel movies tend to be worth the price of admission so it's pretty rare to walk out unsatisfied.  Since I'm pretty late putting up the blog post, you've probably already seen it and formulated your own opinions by now, but here's my take on Spider-Man: Homecoming