Movie Reviews 

Logan

by Alan Rapp on February 18, 2017

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Logan
  • IMDb: link

Logan movie reviewFinally learning that bigger isn’t always better (see X-Men: Apocalypse and X-Men: The Last Stand), 20th Century Fox has moved away from the super-sized team film. With both Logan and Legion (FX’s new series based around the X-Men character of the same name), the X-Men universe is taking some interesting turns with a darker tone and smaller character-driven stories. Logan may not be as entertaining as Deadpool, but it definitely ranks as one of the better X-Men films (and easily the best of the Wolverine standalone movies).

Set more than a decade in the future, Logan gives us a Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) we haven’t seen before. Inspired by Old Man Logan, the Logan we see has aged considerably since the events of Days of Future Past and his healing factor has begun to fail him. In a world where mutants are all but extinct, Logan works as a limousine driver making ends meet and keeping himself, Caliban (Stephen Merchant), and Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) out of the limelight. Of course that changes when a young girl (Dafne Keen) with very similar abilities to his own shows up on his doorstep hunted by those who want her dead.

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John Wick: Chapter 2

by Alan Rapp on February 10, 2017

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: John Wick: Chapter 2
  • IMDb: link

John Wick 2 movie review2014’s John Wick was a thoroughly-enjoyable throwaway action flick. A simplistic revenge story with style and some unforgettable stunts, director Chad Stahelski‘s film knew exactly what it was and just how to deliver. A callback to 80s-style of gun-toting heroes who shot first and asked questions later, the movie ignored modern trends of cutting action scenes into an unrecognizable mess and kept the camera still to allow us to see the awesome unfold on screen. Stunts we could actually watch and enjoy, imagine that.

The sequel is a little more muddled than the original. After the pre-credit sequence wraps up the lone outstanding piece of John Wick’s revenge murder spree, the film slogs through a good 15-20 minutes of exposition, world building, and over-convoluted plot before remembering what it is and why it exists. Once the action ramps back up the film runs full blast to the closing credits, and perhaps beyond. John Wick: Chapter 2 ramps up the headshots and body count to an absurd degree with a handful of memorable kills that even put those from the first film to shame. At its best, it’s running 180 MPH with its burning rubber on fire, but when it idles the vehicle nearly stalls. Okay, no more car metaphors.

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The LEGO Batman Movie

by Alan Rapp on February 10, 2017

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: The LEGO Batman Movie
  • IMDb: link

The LEGO Batman Movie movie reviewA sequel of sorts, The LEGO Batman Movie may not be quite as good as The LEGO Movie but it still proves to be a hell of a good time. Centered around Batman‘s (Will Arnett) inability to trust and rely on others, the film’s plot throws the Dark Knight Detective several curveballs including an adopted son in the energetic Dick Grayson (Michael Cera) combined with the retirement of Commissioner James Gordon (Hector Elizondo), who is replaced by his daughter Barbara (Rosario Dawson), and a new plot by the Joker (Zach Galifianakis) which throws Batman’s life into turmoil.

Without spoiling the plot, the Joker’s plan is actually ingenious given the pair’s relationship (which Batman refuses to acknowledge). The Crown Prince of Crime’s coup de grâce is perfect in its simplicity and leaves Batman completely without direction as even the solitary comfort of Wayne Manor is disrupted both by Dick and Alfred (Ralph Fiennes) who will no longer indulge Master Bruce’s solitude. While longtime Bat-fans are likely to get more out of the movie’s in-jokes (including references to every Batman movie ever made and the 60s television show), the high-action film with a good message for kids is fun for all.

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  • Title: The Space Between Us
  • IMDb: link

The Space Between Us movie reviewHere’s the thing, anybody brave enough to head to the theaters in the dog days of February knows to lower their standards. The perennial post-Oscar dumping ground is the home of clusterfucks and misfit toys which studios either couldn’t or wouldn’t put the money behind. Keeping this very important caveat in mind, The Space Between Us is marginally entertaining as it wraps up your standard romantic dramedy in sci-fi trappings while hoping the strength of its cast will obscure its obvious flaws.

Director Peter Chelsom delivers an undeniably schmaltzy movie of a teenager (Asa Butterfield) born and raised on Mars returning home in search of a father he never knew and to spend time with his Internet girlfriend (Britt Robertson) who had to look across the solar system to find a boy to date. The story begins with a mission to Mars where a female astronauts’ unexpected pregnancy leads to the first baby born on another world. Rather than heralded as a major achievement, the child’s existence is hidden. Embarrased by the event and believing the child could never survive on Earth, the company sidesteps the PR landmine by forgetting about him… for about 16 years.

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20th Century Women

by Alan Rapp on January 20, 2017

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: 20th Century Women
  • IMDb: link

20th Century Women movie reviewI was a big enough fan of writer/director Mike Mills‘ 2011 film Beginners to include it on my best of the year list. In his first film since Beginners, Mills reuses themes of nostalgia and the awkwardness of life along with some of the same structure (including inter-cut stills and narration to frame a time and place), but although 20th Century Women features a strong cast it lacks the intimacy and magic of his previous movie.

Set during the 1970s, the film focuses on single mother Dorothea (Annette Bening), her teenage son Jaime (Lucas Jade Zumann), and the other women in their lives, Jaime’s longtime best-friend Julie (Elle Fanning) and Dorothea’s friend and tenant Abbie (Greta Gerwig), who Dorothea enlists to help raise her son to grow into a proper man.

The strength of the script is the film’s characters and their interactions (even if Mills struggles a bit a making some of these women, based on the real women who raised him, a bit too cute and quirky for their own good). A notable weakness is the size of the cast leading to a less focused film that while enjoyable isn’t necessarily all that memorable.

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