Movie Reviews 

Megan Leavey

by Alan Rapp on June 9, 2017

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Megan Leavey
  • IMDb: link

Megan Leavey movie reviewBased on the true story of US Marine Corporal Megan Leavey and her four-legged partner Rex who served two deployments in Iraq finding hidden explosive devices and insurgent weapons, Kate Mara stars as a lost young woman who finds purpose as a K9 handler. With the potential pitfalls of being both an uplifting military tale and a movie about a woman and her dog, director Gabriela Cowperthwaite and screenwriters Pamela Gray, Annie Mumolo, and Tim Lovestedt do a fair bit of work to not let things get too schmaltzy over the film’s 116-minute running time (although at certain times in the film this becomes a losing battle).

As someone who doesn’t mind a little schmaltz, as long as it serves the story (and it certainly does here), Megan Leavey delivers an engaging tale. Kate Mara may not be the typical idea of a Marine, but Leavey’s story is hardly typical and the casting works. While she and the dog are the true stand-outs here, a grizzled Bradley Whitford (who it took me a moment to recognize) steals a scene or two as Megan’s father. Harry Potter‘s Tom Felton also has a small role as a fellow dog handler. Less effective are the one-note performances of Edie Falco and Will Patton as Megan’s mother and her boyfriend.

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Wonder Woman

by Alan Rapp on May 31, 2017

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Wonder Woman (2017)
  • IMDb: link

Wonder Woman movie reviewIt took four movies, but the DC Extended Universe has finally delivered a true super-hero movie. With Wonder Woman, for the first time, DC gives us a protagonist who is actually a hero (rather than one brought up to be selfish about his gifts, a group of killers brought together for a good cause, or one obsessed with murder and vengeance). I doubt the limited input of Zack Snyder or the lack of involvement from David Goyer is a coincidence. There’s a lesson to be learned there, if anyone at DC or Warner Bros. is paying attention.

Credit goes to director Patty Jenkins and screenwriter Allan Heinberg in taking the best aspects of Captain America: The First Avenger and Thor and merging them into a film better than either of the two. Wonder Woman isn’t without its flaws. It drags on (especially during its CGI-heavy final act) and it can’t quite shake free from Snyder’s hard-on for slow-motion action scenes (although Jenkins is mercifully more adept and not prolonging or overusing the technique). What it gets right is its choice of stars and, for the first time in the combined DC movie universe, a willingness to give the central character heart (something sorely lacking in DC’s previous films).

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  • Title: Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales
  • IMDb: link

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales movie reviewHow does a movie based off an amusement park ride end up with four sequels? Taking a page out of the book of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the latest entry into the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise goes back to the beginning to try and recapture the magic of its best film. Although it delivers not much more than a pale imitation of Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, borrowing heavily from every major plot point, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales is easily the least shitty sequel in a franchise that knows something about shitty sequels.

See if any of this sounds familiar: A man (Brenton Thwaites) with a pirate father and a woman (Kaya Scodelario) too independent for her time befriend the crazy pirate Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) while being pursued by a ship of undead cursed souls seeking a treasure that can save them and led by a captain (Javier Bardem) who hates Jack.

While all a bit too familiar, the choice to allow Jack to be more part of an ensemble rather than the central character certainly helps the film. Although even with less screentime the character grows tiresome at times.

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Baywatch

by Alan Rapp on May 25, 2017

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Baywatch
  • IMDb: link

Baywatch movie reviewBased on the 90s television show not good enough for network television which earned a following in syndication by providing soap opera style plots that often had little to do with the characters’ actual jobs of lifeguards, comes a new feature film version of the franchise. Dumb, almost entirely forgettable (I can’t name a single plot from the show either), and mostly an excuse to put beautiful people in swimsuits and have then run around on-camera, the movie is exactly what you’d expect.

With a generic script which could have been easily adapted from any number of other properties, the set-up is fairly simple. Former Olympic swimmer turned failed human being Matt Brody (a ripped Zac Efron) arrives on the beach as one of the lifeguards’ new recruits. The others include the underdeveloped Summer Quinn (Alexandra Daddario) and the goofy comic relief Ronnie Greenbaum (Jon Bass). While Brody immediately clashes with the lifeguard leader Mitch Buchannon (Dwayne “It’s Okay to Call Me The Rock Again” Johnson), Ronnie is given his own subplot involving his attraction to the beautiful C.J. (Kelly Rohrbach).

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Guy Ritchie’s King Arthur

by Alan Rapp on May 11, 2017

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: King Arthur: Legend of the Sword
  • IMDb: link

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword movie reviewWhen I first heard that Guy Ritchie was going to direct a King Arthur movie my reaction was that this could well be the worst idea for a movie I’d ever heard. By that standard, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword is actually better than I expected. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a full-on trainwreck in innumerable ways, but it wasn’t altogether unwatchable. (Let’s see them work that ringing endorsement onto the poster.)

This movie is (supposedly) about King Arthur, played here by the often shirtless Charlie Hunnam, and his magic sword which apparently can freeze time while also creating shock waves and explosions. (Who knew?) However, it becomes blatantly obvious Guy Ritchie (who both directed and co-wrote the movie) has no real idea who Arthur is. It’s like he saw a poorly-translated anime on the subject and decided to make his own movie. It’s so bad that this movie should come with a disclaimer that any relation to King Arthur or his legend is purely coincidental.

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