Movie Reviews 

Eddie the Eagle

by Alan Rapp on February 26, 2016

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Eddie the Eagle
  • IMDb: link

Eddie the EagleIt’s fitting that at one point during Eddie the Eagle a sports announcer mentions the Jamaican bobsled team. Taking place during the same 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary, the story of Eddie “The Eagle” Edwards (Taron Egerton) proves to be a fair companion piece to 1993’s Cool Runnings about outsiders making their mark and earning a place in a sport that wanted nothing to do with them.

In truth there aren’t that many sports stories. There’s the tale of the underdog making good (Rocky, Rudy, Major League), the comeback (Rocky III, Cinderella Man), a team coming together to overcome incredible odds (We Are Marshall, Hoosiers, Miracle), and an old athlete given a last chance at redemption (Rocky Balboa, The Wrestler). We like these stories because the characters are recognizable, their goals are understandable, and journeys are worth rooting for. Eddie the Eagle uses several of these themes in presenting Eddie’s story. The script by Sean Macaulay and Simon Kelton colors far less outside the lines than it’s protagonist ever did, but Edward’s story of a dreamer chasing the impossible simply works. It’s exactly the feel-good sports movie you expect it to be.

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Deadpool

by Alan Rapp on February 12, 2016

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Deadpool
  • IMDb: link

DeadpoolFans of Deadpool rejoice, the Merc with a Mouth has made it to the big screen and has brought his raunchy hard R-rating humor with him. Not pulling any punches, director Tim Miller and screenwriters Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick succeed in capturing the core of one of Marvel’s most insane smart-ass characters as 20th Century and Ryan Reynolds both redeem themselves for their previous (and regrettable) collaboration of the character in X-Men Origins: Wolverine.

Kicking ass and cracking wise, Deadpool continually breaks the fourth wall while killing many, many people and making comments about the movie, various characters (and the real-life actors who play them), and even Ryan Reynolds’ other super-hero movie. Along for the ride are Morena Baccarin as Wade Wilson’s stripper girlfriend Vanessa and T.J. Miller as Wade’s equally wise-cracking best bud Weasel. And Leslie Uggams provides a couple of cheap laughs as the Merc with a Mouth’s blind roommate. Deadpool comic readers should also watch out for Deadpool’s long-suffering comic-book sidekick Bob (Rob Hayter) who earns his own cameo.

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Where to Invade Next

by Alan Rapp on February 12, 2016

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Where to Invade Next
  • IMDb: link

Where to Invade NextFor his first film in half a decade Michael Moore turns his attention to education, workers’ rights, and prison policies in a whirlwind tour around the world from France to Tunisia. Where to Invade Next captures the best, and worst, of Moore who presents a compelling argument that the United States may want to look at other countries’ solutions to problems that are being handled better abroad than at home. “Invading” the nations to steal their solutions, Moore hopes to bring them all back home.

At its best Where to Invade Next is a compelling look at solutions to serious problems. The documentary offers valid arguments for America to look to alternative solutions (many of which were first proposed by Americans themselves). At its worst, the film becomes more about Moore mugging for the camera than his argument. While those open to the ideas raised in the film are likely to come away with some smart questions about how the United States deals with prisoners, students, and workers, those with an already low tolerance for the filmmaker’s antics won’t need to look very hard for an excuse to turn a deaf ear and tune him out (or, more likely, ignore the film completely).

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Hail, Caesar!

by Alan Rapp on February 5, 2016

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Hail, Caesar!
  • IMDb: link

Hail, Caesar!With Hail, Caesar! the Coen Brothers take a few good-natured stabs at the golden age of movies while celebrating, and lampooning, the studio system of Hollywood during the early days of the Cold War. Providing a film where Channing Tatum gets to play Fred Astaire and Tilda Swinton does double-duty as twin gossip columnists, I wouldn’t go so far to call it a screwball comedy, but Hail, Caesar! certainly does have a few screws loose (in mostly the right places).

Josh Brolin stars as studio exec Eddie Mannix dodging offers to leave the studio for a more stable job while overseeing a big-budget spectacular about a Roman general’s encounter with Jesus Christ when his star (George Clooney) is kidnapped by a group of Hollywood writers who are all Communists (Fisher Stevens, Patrick Fischler, Tom Musgrave, David Krumholtz, Greg Baldwin, and Patrick Carroll).

Not all the film works. Far too much time is wasted on Mannix being wooed by an airline, and, while opening up intriguing ideas about outside-the-box solutions to problems, the subplot involving Scarlett Johansson as a single pregnant starlet fizzles. More successful is Alden Ehrenreich as a Western star struggling with his role in straightforward drama.

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Kung Fu Panda 3

by Alan Rapp on January 29, 2016

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Kung Fu Panda 3
  • IMDb: link

Kung Fu Panda 3Building on the epilogue of Kung Fu Panda 2, the latest sequel introduces Po (Jack Black) to his father Li (Bryan Cranston) and an entire tribe of Pandas hidden away in a secret valley deep in the mountains. Along the way Po will also struggle with passing on his knowledge of Kung Fu in the role of teacher, first to the Furious Five and later to his Panda students, when an old threat returns and begins stealing the chi of Kung Fu masters across China.

While not as good as the first film, Kung Fu Panda 3 stands up pretty well against Kung Fu Panda 2 – even if it ignores the most intriguing subplot of the first sequel involving Po’s evolving relationship with Tigress (Angelina Jolie). J.K. Simmons proves to be a good choice for the film’s villain Kai: Oogway‘s (Randall Duk Kim) one-time friend who escapes the spirit realm in his search of ultimate power.

And the film introduces us to an entire village of thinly drawn but (mostly) entertaining Panda characters while still finding time to deal with Mr. Ping‘s (James Hong) jealousy and insecurity at Po exploring a relationship with his “real” father.

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