Movie Reviews 

First Man

by Alan Rapp on October 12, 2018

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: First Man
  • IMDb: link

First Man movie reviewAdapted from the book First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong, director Damien Chazelle‘s story about the life and career of Neil Armstrong (Ryan Gosling) is a well-made film highlighting various moments of the astronaut’s life before the fateful first steps of the moon landing. There’s obvious care taken into the look of the film, various historic NASA elements, and capturing Armstrong both at work and with his family. The movie doesn’t delve too deep into what made Armstrong tick (there’s nothing here you won’t find on Wikipedia, for example), and jumps around quite a bit during early segments. That, along with Gosling’s stoic performance, does keep the audience at arm’s length as I struggled to connect emotionally with the factually accurate tale that still left me a bit cold.

First Man isn’t focused solely on Armstrong’s career at NASA, nor his family life, nor even the series of personal and professional tragedies leading up to walking on the moon. Instead First Man attempts a more comprehensive look than it can comfortably deal with in an already long 141-minute running time. This leaves us with a good film, that I enjoyed, but one I’m unlikely to revisit anytime soon.

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Sorry Nina, It’s All About Mary

by Alan Rapp on October 11, 2018

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: All About Nina
  • IMDb: link

All About Nina movie reviewI really wanted to like All About Nina. I can certainly tell what drew Mary Elizabeth Winstead to the project in which she plays a stand-up comedian struggling with her career and relationships. While Winstead makes the most of the dramatic moments, particularly during an impressive breakdown on stage, the script from writer/director Eva Vives does the actress no favors.

Had Nina (Winstead) been written as an average struggling comic the script may have worked better, but, while Winstead does her best to sell Nina’s material on stage, the jokes aren’t strong enough to sell the character as comedy’s next big thing.

Leaving New York, and a dysfunctional relationship with a married man (Chace Crawford), Nina heads to Los Angeles. Not the actual Los Angeles, but the cliched movie version with hippie roommates and fame and soulmates just waiting to be found. While auditioning for a job that would launch her career, Nina begins an emotional relationship with an LA local (Common) who apparently is the first nice guy Nina has ever met, let alone dated.

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A Star is Born

by Alan Rapp on October 6, 2018

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: A Star is Born
  • IMDb: link

A Star is Born movie reviewWhile not the most original of projects, A Star is Born is the fourth movie of that name which older artists help to launch the careers of younger artists, the story is emotionally engaging and expertly told. There is always a challenge with musicals when choosing either actors who can sing or singers who can act. For its two leads, A Star is Born chooses one of each. In the first 10 minutes we learn three things. First, Bradley Cooper can direct. Second, Lady Gaga can act. And finally, Bradly Cooper can sing. All of this results in a compelling film.

Cooper stars as Jackson Maine, a musician who can still sell out arenas but is obviously on the downside of his career. An alcoholic and drug addict, Jackson meets Ally (Lady Gaga) in a drag club one night. Sparks fly nearly immediately as Jackson discovers not only does Ally have a great voice but also a talent for writing personal songs. A friendship and romance blossoms as Jackson pushes Ally into the spotlight launching her career and creating new tensions between the two artists and lovers concerning Ally’s rise to fame and issues and addictions Jackson chooses not to speak openly about.

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Next Gen

by Alan Rapp on September 21, 2018

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Next Gen
  • IMDb: link

Next Gen reviewIt’s almost impossible not to compare Next Gen to Big Hero 6 with a story about a troubled young protagonist finding friendship with a big and bulky, but obviously still cute, robot who helps the kid work through emotional baggage and save the day from an evil super-genius. Focusing on the emotional volatility of a troubled girl, there’s also a splash of Inside Out angst thrown in for good measure. If you own Big Hero 6 I’d suggest watching that instead, but, if you are looking for something new, Next Gen will help you pass the time.

The film from co-directors and writers Kevin R. Adams and Joe Ksander takes place in the technologically advanced near future where every family, and apparently lots of children, have their own personal robot. There are all sorts of logistical issues with dangerous household robots that would immeadiately lead to an insane amount of damage and lawsuits (including torturing and beating small children, no Law of Robotics here!). The film instead chooses to ignore such logic gaps (like any government oversight, I guess the Libertarians run the future?) and lead with its heart as much as possible.

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The Predator

by Alan Rapp on September 13, 2018

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: The Predator
  • IMDb: link

The Predator movie reviewJohn McTiernan‘s Predator is a sci-fi action flick that holds up three decades later. Unfortunately, you can’t say the same for its sequels. Writer/director Shane Black is the latest to try his hand at breathing some new life into the franchise. Set in present day, The Predator acknowledges the previous films and offers more than a handful of callbacks (including someone actually yelling to “Get to the chopper!”).

I think expectations are going to play a large role in audience reaction to the film. On one-hand it does work as a throwaway B-movie. On the other the film misses the mark with a convoluted script and an underwhelming ending. Despite enjoying Black’s work, I expected very little from the movie and ended up having an okay time (while I freely admit that the elements here could have been put to far better use).

The first Predator arrives on Earth causing havoc. The second, uber-Predator (and his Predator dogs), follows later. I won’t give away the relationship between the pair, or why they are on Earth, but it is far more complicated than simply hunting for sport (making a pretty large deviation from other Predator films).

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