Movie Reviews 

Finding Dory

by Alan Rapp on June 17, 2016

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Finding Dory
  • IMDb: link

Finding DoryPixar’s first sequel since Cars 2 returns audiences under the ocean for the follow up to 2003’s Finding Nemo. This time our story is centered around Dory (Ellen DeGeneres), the Pacific regal blue tang suffering from short-term memory loss who helped Marlin (Albert Brooks) find his lost son Nemo (Hayden Rolence) in the original film. With her dim memory sparked, Dory sets out to find her parents with Marlin and Nemo in tow. However, it’s not long before Dory and her friends are separated and she must fend for herself.

Although I enjoy Finding Nemo, if I rank my favorite Pixar films it’s always near the bottom. The sequel, however, surprised me. Making Dory, rather than Marlin, the main character of the film makes for a more engaging story with a far more likable lead. The supporting cast surrounding Dory is also more vibrant the second time around including an ill-tempered scene-stealing septopus named Hank (Ed O’Neill), a near-sighted whale shark (Kaitlin Olson), a beluga whale (Ty Burrell) with performance issues, sea lions, the odd loon Becky, and the most adorable bunch of sea otters you’ve ever seen on film.

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Now You See Me 2

by Alan Rapp on June 10, 2016

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Now You See Me 2
  • IMDb: link

Now You See Me 2The sequel to Now You See Me attempts to pull an Oceans Twelve as the heroes from the first film are constantly thwarted and outmaneuvered. Sadly this movie doesn’t have the wit or style to pull off such a move. Taking place three years after the first film, the script makes several odd choices. While the Four Horsemen (Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Dave Franco) have gone into hiding, Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo) has remained with the FBI for the questionable purpose of keeping the Feds off the inactive magicians’ trail. His lovely Interpol girlfriend (Mélanie Laurent) is nowhere to be seen, and the adventure he and the Horsemen get trapped in will rewrite several key pieces of the first film.

When the Horsemen do return, except for Isla Fisher who is replaced by Lizzy Caplan, to take down another greedy billionaire, the media darlings are thwarted by an adversary (Daniel Radcliffe) who separates them from their leader and puts them to work in Macau to steal a revolutionary microchip. After an awkward set-up that includes Harrelson in a dual role, the movie begins to pick up a little steam in Macau as the Horseman get back to business stealing the chip and attempt to turn the tables on their tormentor.

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Warcraft

by Alan Rapp on June 10, 2016

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Warcraft
  • IMDb: link

WarcraftA good video-game movie is something of an oxymoron. The genre has produced dreadful results over the years including (but not limited to) the likes of Max Payne, Super Mario Bros., Hitman, Alone in the Dark, and Doom. Even the ones that prove watchable fit more into the “so bad they’re good” category than on any merit of their own.

Given the huge success of World of Warcraft, it’s not surprising that the some form of the Blizzard game made it into theaters. I’m actually shocked it took this long. That the movie isn’t awful puts it ahead of many of its predecessors. That it isn’t altogether that good is less surprising.

Set on the planet of Azeroth, the script by director Duncan Jones and Charles Leavitt shuffles between the native humans and the race of invading Orcs. In each case the movie gives us a central warrior to help focus that half of the story. There is plenty of fan bait to be had with broad and small nods to the game, but where the game allows you to explore the vast world of Azeroth this version proves mostly empty as we are teased with locations that remain unexplored.

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Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping

by Alan Rapp on June 3, 2016

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping
  • IMDb: link

Popstar: Never Stop Never StoppingLet’s face it, if you are paying to see Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping you know going in exactly what you are getting. Written by The Lonely Island Trio Andy Samberg, Akiva Schaffer, and Jorma Taccone, the celebrity mockumentary is variations of one joke stretched to 86 minutes. Lampooning celebrity by highlighting former boy band singer Connor4Real (Samberg) turned solo star adjusting to the unexpected criticism of his new album, it takes shots at everything from vapid celebrities to the media obsessed with them.

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping isn’t a great movie. Like it’s lead character, it lacks the brains or ambition to make the most out of its talent. That said, even over-stuffed with real-life celebrities playing themselves and jibes at TMZ, the movie does produce several humorous moments. Not all the jokes land but enough do to to keep the train rolling. An 86-minute running time might seem rather short, but for a script with so little to say it’s actually a tad long.

The film’s creators bring their music parody skills to bear here. However all of Connor’s songs, both the hits and horrific misfires, all sound pretty much the same (bad and ridiculous). That’s a problem when the entire plot hinges on some being vastly better than others.

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Alice Through the Looking Glass

by Alan Rapp on May 27, 2016

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Alice Through the Looking Glass
  • IMDb: link

Alice Through the Looking GlassOther than the bizarre Burtonian designs of the Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp) and the Red Queen (Helena Bonham Carter) I remember almost nothing of 2010’s Alice in Wonderland. Six years later Tim Burton reassembles the cast for a sequel one studio executive, and possibly some other people somewhere, thought would be a good idea. Six years from now I wonder if I will remember anything about this film.

With Burton taking a backseat as producer this time around, James Bobin (The Muppets, The Muppets Most Wanted) steps into the director’s chair. Burton’s fingerprints are all over the film so we can’t really call it Bobin’s movie, but there are some humorous touches that could come from the director.

Set several years after the first film, Alice (Mia Wasikowska) is now a ship’s captain who is pulled back into Wonderland by either A) a friend in need or B) her inability to deal with the stress losing her ship to her ex-fiance. You can decide for yourself whether you believe Alice is an adventurer or a troubled young woman with mental problems she deals with through detailed hallucinations.

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