Movie Reviews 

The (Not-Quite) Magnificent Seven

by Alan Rapp on September 23, 2016

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: The Magnificent Seven (2016)
  • IMDb: link

The Magnificent SevenThe remake of 1960’s The Magnificent Seven starts in much the same manner, with a over-the-top villain (Peter Sarsgaard) threatening the prosperity of a peaceful farming town. Unable to protect themselves a small group (Haley Bennett and Luke Grimes) leave the town looking to hire gunmen with their meager resources. What they find is bounty hunter who helps recruit a motley crew of cowboys and outlaws willing to take on impossible odds for little reward.

There are some important differences between the two films (and not only the fact that the setting is moved from Mexico to a nondescript location somewhere in the Old West). The first is choosing to make the quest personal for one member of seven which changes the climax of the film in ways that aren’t necessarily improvements. As with the other changes (such as the town’s reaction to the outlaws, the makeup of the seven themselves, and a more dramatic tone to the movie), choosing to make the lead character’s choice as much about vengeance as justice is an important distinction. Because of this, and the more dramatic slant to other aspects of the story, the remake lacks the larger rousing heroic scale of the original.

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Sully

by Alan Rapp on September 9, 2016

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Sully
  • IMDb: link

SullyAnointed by the media as the “Miracle on the Hudson,” Sully offers the story of pilot Chesley Sullenberger (Tom Hanks) whose miraculous water landing of a full-sized passenger plane in the Hudson River was celebrated by the world as a near-impossible feat but questioned heavily by the airline industry. Remarkably, every passenger and crew member survived Sully ditching the plane, but that’s really just where this story gets started.

More analytical than I expected, the screenplay by Todd Komarnicki spends much of its screentime on findings, data, trial strategy, simulations, discussions, and bureaucratic infighting. While this allows director Clint Eastwood to steer well-clear of the film venturing anywhere near the realm of sappy or schmaltzy, it also means much of the movie lacks the emotional impact one would expect. Other than watching his struggle to deal with reluctantly being pulled into the limelight, we don’t learn much about our title character. Although deeper family and drinking issues and are hinted at, the movie’s focus is completely on Sully being the right man in the right spot at right moment and how those few seconds effected the flight and Sully in particular.

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The Light Between Oceans

by Alan Rapp on September 2, 2016

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: The Light Between Oceans
  • IMDb: link

The Light Between OceansIn the hands of a less talented cast The Light Between Oceans would be a tedious disaster. Soap opera dressed in drag as high drama, the manipulative tale is made watchable by its choice of leads Michael Fassbender and Alicia Vikander in what feels very much like a story predestined for Lifetime television. Still, a talented cast can only do so much with the sordid, and extremely predictable, source material.

Adapted from the novel of the same name, Fassbender stars as Tom Sherbourne, a WWI vet who takes a job as the lighthouse keeper on an isolated island. Falling for the daughter of one of the men who hired him for the position, Tom and Isabel’s (Alicia Vikander) life on the island is full of tragedy, but the arrival of a shipwrecked boat promises a new start for the couple. To do so they will make a choice which will not only affect themselves but a woman they have never met (Rachel Weisz) for years to come.

At more than two-hours no amount of pretty (but never quite amazing) scenery or closeups of Vikander and Fassbender can prevent the lull which director Derek Cianfrance can not seem to avoid.

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Mechanic: Resurrection

by Alan Rapp on August 28, 2016

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Mechanic: Resurrection
  • IMDb: link

Mechanic: ResurrectionThe follow-up to 2011’s The Mechanic returns Jason Statham as retired hitman Arthur Bishop. After faking his death, Bishop has lived the good life in Rio until a courier (Yayaying Rhatha Phongam) for an old frenemy (Sam Hazeldine) throws Bishop’s life into chaos. After falling for the honeypot (Jessica Alba) sent in to earn his trust, Bishop is blackmailed into committing the impossible assassinations of the world’s three largest arms dealers (Femi Elufowoju Jr., Toby Eddington, and Tommy Lee Jones) in a matter of days when he fails to prevent her kidnapping.

Better than the first film, director Dennis Gansel relies too heavily at times on close shaky-cam quick-cut action scenes. The script by Philip Shelby and Tony Mosher is more convoluted than necessary for a rather straightforward action film. Because of this the story requires a bit more set-up, following the open action sequence, before the movie really gets going. The set-up is really just an excuse to throw Statham into action scenes in multiple exotic locales (Thailand, Brazil, and Australia). On that level it works pretty well, especially during it’s best scene involving Bishop’s murder by swimming pool.

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Hell or High Water

by Alan Rapp on August 19, 2016

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Hell or High Water
  • IMDb: link

Hell or High WaterHell or High Water is more than it appears to be at first glance. The simple story of two brothers robbing banks while literally being pursued by a cowboy (Jeff Bridges) and an Indian (Gil Birmingham) through small Texas towns is grounded in complex motivations playing as much on character-driven drama as themes from westerns and heist films which screenwriter Taylor Sheridan and director David Mackenzie use to frame the tale. Shot against the bleak canvas of West Texas (or, to be more accurate, New Mexico standing in for West Texas), Hell or High Water is an engrossing, entertaining, and often amusing, film.

Ben Foster and Chris Pine star as Tanner and Toby Howard. The estranged brothers have been reunited after years by a recent tragedy and a driving need which will push them to robbery. As the film opens, the two perform a pair of well-planned, if shakily executed, robberies of two West Texas banks. Taking only small denominations from the cashiers’ drawers, the two limit their exposure and the police’s chances of tracing the money. Needing a large amount of cash by the end of the week for purposes which will eventually become clear, the pair are just getting started.

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