Movie Reviews 

Still Pitchy, and Far From Perfect

by Alan Rapp on December 21, 2017

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Pitch Perfect 3
  • IMDb: link

Pitch Perfect 3 movie reviewScreenwriters Kay Cannon and Mike White bend over backwards the third time around to find a plausible reason to reunite the Barden Bellas for a final chance to sing and compete for glory. Given the glut of game shows which are music-based it would seem pretty easy to do. However, Pitch Perfect 3 goes old school and instead sends our ladies overseas to perform on a USO tour for American servicemen abroad. And, because everything in this series has to be about competition, the Bellas are pitted against the other bands competing for an opening act spot for prestigious musician DJ Khaled (playing himself).

Most of the cast return including the talented Becca Anna Kendrick, the awkward and all-the-sudden less-sexually-confused Chloe (Brittany Snow), the competitive Aubrey (Anna Camp), the younger Emily (Hailee Steinfeld), the odd Lilly (Hana Mae Lee), and the annoying Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson) who gets her own bizarre subplot involving a long-lost father (John Lithgow) and gangsters… for the micro-audience of those waiting to see Rebel Wilson as a ninja? Elizabeth Banks and John Michael Higgins also reprise their roles as commentators, this time tracking the group overseas for a documentary which would seem to have a very narrow target audience as well.

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Downsizing

by Alan Rapp on December 21, 2017

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Downsizing
  • IMDb: link

Downsizing movie reviewDownsizing is an odd film with an intriguing premise and unusual concept that gets a little lost along the way as the film takes a hard-right turn leaving you unsure, exactly, where the story is ultimately heading. Matt Damon and Kristen Wiig star as a couple who decide to take part in an unusual scientific adventure which will shrink them to only a few centimeters tall. Initially created as a way to preserve the world’s dwindling resources, downsizing gains popularity as a middle-income family like the Safraneks can live like kings for only a fraction of the price in ritzy miniature communities. Of course, things don’t go exactly as planned.

Director and co-writer Alexander Payne has delivered some strong films over the years (The Decendants, Sideways, and Nebraska), but despite a promising set-up, Downsizing never reaches its full potential. That said, there’s some fun to be had (even if the ecological preachiness doesn’t match the offbeat humor). Without giving away the twist, the film explores the miniature world through Paul’s eyes focusing on the odd characters he meets (such as Hong Chau and Christoph Waltz) as he learns to look at life from a different perspective that really doesn’t have much to do with his relative size.

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Jumanji: Unwelcome is the Remake

by Alan Rapp on December 20, 2017

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle
  • IMDb: link

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle movie review1995’s Jumanji isn’t a great adaptation of the award-winning children’s book about a game which brings jungle chaos to the real world, but it works well-enough as a family-friendly adventure. Fast-forward to 2017 and Jumanji is reinvented as a video game, a concept which gives the sequel/remake the ability to cast big name stars playing kids trapped in the game. While the concept is initially interesting, nothing about the plot makes sense in the structure of a video game as the script quickly devolves into a hot mess.

The film begins in Breakfast Club-style when four students, a nerd (Alex Wolff), jock (Ser’Darius Blain), popular girl (Madison Iseman), and freak (Morgan Turner), get thrown in detention by a stern principal. Finding an old video game in the school’s basement, the foursome are transported into the world of Jumanji as the avatars they chose: the hero (Dwayne “It’s Okay to Call Me The Rock Again” Johnson), his zoologist sidekick (Kevin Hart), a cartographer (Jack Black, basically doing Rob Schneider‘s shtick from The Hot Chick), and a dance-fighter (Karen Gillan). As in the original, the group will discover another player (Nick Jonas) trapped in the game.

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The Not Very Interesting Showman

by Alan Rapp on December 20, 2017

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: The Greatest Showman
  • IMDb: link

The Greatest Showman movie reviewI never thought I would see Hugh Jackman upstaged by Zac Efron. Jackman stars as the flawed but good-natured conman and showman P.T. Barnum, whose dreams and drive will lead the unemployed clerk into creating the world’s first circus. Director Michael Gracey‘s elaborate musical has several problems, including (but no limited to) the film is far less epic than intended, most of the musical numbers are forgettable, plot issues are immediately solved with minimal effort (sometimes even off camera), and its main character is the least interesting thing about the entire project. Other than that, it’s an okay show.

Jackman’s Barnum is a bland lead compelled to rise above his station and prove his worth. Despite the infectious dream he shares, and the family he creates, he’s often a selfish and unlikable character. The cast of supporting characters include Michelle Williams as Barnum’s wife, Rebecca Ferguson as Barnum’s first legitimate act, Efron as Barnum’s business associate and Zendaya as the trapeze artist he falls for, and a collection of oddities, freaks, and exhibits which Barnum fills his circus including Keala Settle and Sam Humphrey.

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Beauty and the Creature from the Black Lagoon

by Alan Rapp on December 15, 2017

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: The Shape of Water
  • IMDb: link

The Shape of Water movie reviewGuillermo del Toro puts his own spin on the Beauty and the Beast tale in The Shape of Water which stars Sally Hawkins as a mute janitor at the the Occam Aerospace Research Center who discovers just what the scientists and military men are studying. Doug Jones, who worked with del Toro before in the Hellboy films and Pan’s Labyrinth, is transformed by practical and CGI effects into a creature who is part Abe Sapien and part the Creature from the Black Lagoon. Never given a name, nor able to speak (just like the woman who falls for him), the design of “the asset” is terrific.

The story is pretty standard. Girl meets boy from the wrong side of the tracks, they fall in love, and all hell breaks loose. The talent both in front and behind the camera elevates the words on the printed page into a magical fairy tale which is joyful to watch. The setting of the 1960s, Elisa’s (Hawkins) inability to speak, Richard Jenkins as her confidant, and Michael Shannon as the brutal colonel in control of the experiment, all add interesting pieces to the puzzle making The Shape of Water more than the sum of its parts. Supporting performances from Octavia Spencer, Michael Stuhlbarg, and Lauren Lee Smith all bring something to add and help flesh out the world.

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