Movie Reviews 

Star Trek Beyond

by Alan Rapp on July 22, 2016

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Star Trek Beyond
  • IMDb: link

Star Trek BeyondThe third time’s the charm. After a lackluster first film and a clusterfuck of a sequel, the rebooted franchise finally gets it right with Star Trek Beyond. No longer awkwardly straddling the original and new continuities, the latest Star Trek film offers a wholly original story and the first really good movie in the Star Trek franchise in 20 years.

Opening with a humorous scene of Captain James T. Kirk (Chris Pine) struggling with a delicate diplomatic mission which plants the first seed of the story, Star Trek Beyond really gets going when Kirk and the Enterprise are tricked into a rescue mission that leaves the Enterprise in pieces and most of its crew prisoners of a warmonger known as Krall (Idris Elba) who is after an ancient weapon which could change the balance of power in the galaxy.

While not offering much of the bigger themes of the original series’ best episodes, director Justin Lin (Fast & Furious) does deliver one hell of an action film (which looks even more impressive in IMAX 3D) that is still driven by the core relationships of its characters. For those of us dissatisfied with the recent additions to the franchise, this is the movie we’ve been waiting for.

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Who You Gonna Let Go to Voicemail?

by Alan Rapp on July 15, 2016

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Ghostbusters
  • IMDb: link

GhostbustersWriter/director Paul Feig‘s lazy adaptation of the much-beloved 1984 comedy Ghostbusters isn’t the complete trainwreck I half-expected. The movie does have its share of laughs, and the CGI ghosts (with a couple of notable exceptions) are impressive. It’s too bad the script is not. While the film offers glimmers of what could have been, we are instead left only with regrets about what is.

Offering us an all-female team-up of three white scientists and one regular Joe who happens to be black, the 2016 lacks the chemistry of the original movie which it attempts to make up for with a variety of cheap body humor jokes and a series of running gags like how hopeless their man-servant (Chris Hemsworth) is. Desperately missing an unscrupulous Bill Murray character on the team to stir the pot, instead we get a stick-in-the-mud (Kristen Wiig), a loud-mouth (Melissa McCarthy), the crazy one (Kate McKinnon), and of course their new sassy black friend (Leslie Jones). I’m almost positive these characters are given names at some point, but they are so paper thin the movie offered me no reason to learn, let alone remember, them.

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Our Kind of Traitor

by Alan Rapp on July 1, 2016

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Our Kind of Traitor
  • IMDb: link

Our Kind of TraitorAs spy stories often do, Our Kind of Traitor opens in Russia. However, for our protagonist things begin far away from Moscow. On vacation with his wife Gail (Naomie Harris), Perry (Ewan McGregor) has a chance encounter with a Russian gangster named Dima (Stellan Skarsgård). One wild night later, Perry is presented with an offer he can’t refuse.

With the murder of his business partner and his entire family in the movie’s opening scene, Dima is desperate for any help he can get. As unlikely a candidate a college poetry professor is, Perry proves to be Dima’s only hope to save himself and his family from meeting the same gruesome fate. Convincing Perry to take a flash drive to MI6 on his return to London proves to be only the first step in getting the professor caught up in the world of the Russian money launderer.

Like many spy novels, Our Kind of Traitor offers various twists and turns including a British agent (Damian Lewis) who lies to get Dima’s information for personal reasons leading to further complications. And like many movies adapted from novels, I’m guessing the book was better.

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The Legend of Tarzan

by Alan Rapp on July 1, 2016

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: The Legend of Tarzan
  • IMDb: link

The Legend of TarzanCreated by Edgar Rice Burroughs more than 100 years ago, Tarzan has been adapted countless times in film, radio, television, and print. The latest version of the jungle hero from director David Yates chooses to forgo an origin story (which is given to us in small flashbacks over the course of the movie) in favor of a more civilized Tarzan (Alexander Skarsgård) returning to Africa with his wife Jane (Margot Robbie) to investigate troubling news concerning the Congo, where he was raised and became a legend – and where an old enemy (Djimon Hounsou) is waiting.

Physically Skarsgård is an imposing figure and he manages to capture both Tarzan’s fierceness and his large heart. Robbie is delightful as the feisty Jane. Kidnapped by Christoph Waltz as a corrupt Belgian, whose resemblance to René Emile Belloq is hard to see as coincidental, Jane finds a way to fight the villain and buy time for her husband to swing in on a vine and ultimately save the day (and all of the Congo). And if Waltz is sleepwalking in the lesser version of characters he has played countless times over, what is to be said of Samuel L. Jackson playing himself in order to add a little comic relief to the proceedings?

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The Neon Demon

by Alan Rapp on June 27, 2016

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: The Neon Demon
  • IMDb: link

“Beauty isn’t everything. It’s the only thing.”

The Neon DemonIn what is likely going to be one of the more divisive films of 2016, the latest from writer/director Nicolas Winding Refn (Drive) casts Elle Fanning as a naive 16 year-old girl just breaking into the model business in Los Angeles. Blessed with an ineffable quality no one can quite explain, Jesse (Fanning) soon becomes the hot new girl, much to the dismay of a pair of models (Bella Heathcote and Abbey Lee) seeing their careers flash before their eyes.

Jesse’s journey will lead her into contact with a wide variety of people including her creepy apartment manager (Keanu Reeves), jealous models, designers, photographers (Desmond Harrington and Karl Glusman), and a makeup artist (Jena Malone) all of whom want something from the young woman.

Refn’s film is a metaphor for how the modeling industry celebrates physical beauty in the absence of any other quality while slowly devouring the very objects of their devotion. The film takes the metaphor one step too far in the final act leaving the film with an ending that satisfies the movie’s message but not necessarily the audience.

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