Movie Reviews 

Ferdinand

by Alan Rapp on December 14, 2017

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Ferdinand
  • IMDb: link

Ferdinand movie review2017 wasn’t the best year for animation. Although there are several solid films, including two from Disney/Pixar, there was no clear standout. Based on the 1938 children’s story, Ferdinand is another solid animated feature which is surprisingly moving coming from Blue Sky Studios (best known for the more comedic Ice Age franchise) as the combination of six writers work to build out the simple story of a bull who would rather smell the flowers than fight, into a feature film. The result is a funny, but also unexpectedly clever (including the best possible bull in a China shop joke) and heartfelt, film.

Opening with early scenes to showcase how unusual Ferdinand is from other young bulls, the film fast-forwards through a montage to a grown-up Ferdinand (John Cena) forced to leave his peaceful life in the country, and the little girl who loves him (Lily Day), and rejoin the life he previously escaped. Wrestler John Cena may seem an unusual choice for the lead, but the larger-than-life character (who likely knows something about being a bit too large for the world around him) proves to add just the right touch to the character of a ginormous bull with a peaceful spirit.

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Star Wars: The Last Jedi

by Alan Rapp on December 12, 2017

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Star Wars: The Last Jedi
  • IMDb: link

Star Wars: The Last Jedi movie reviewI love Star Wars. I’m a fan. Always have been. My love of film, science fiction, and movie merchandise can be traced back to the film that sprung from the mind of George Lucas. I mention this because, as a fan, it’s not always easy to look critically at what you love. However, I will do my best (while avoiding spoilers).

Star Wars: The Force Awakens gave me a taste during its final moments, but Star Wars: The Last Jedi finally delivers on the Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) film I have been waiting impatiently for since 1983. Adding to my interest in the latest installment of the Star Wars franchise was the fact that a grizzled Luke would get paired with my favorite of the new characters introduced in the previous film. Those expecting Luke to jump immediately into action on behalf of Rey‘s (Daisy Ridley) plea might be initially disappointed, but (despite small complaints I have with the film) I think you’ll agree that writer/director Rian Johnson succeeds in paying homage to what has come before while shading a bit more outside of the lines than J.J. Abrams was willing, or able, to do.

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Phantom Thread

by Alan Rapp on December 8, 2017

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Phantom Thread
  • IMDb: link

Phantom Thread movie reviewIn a career that spans more than 35 years Daniel Day-Lewis has raised the bar for actors. While his role as dress designer Reynolds Woodcock may not be his most notable, Daniel Day-Lewis does not disappoint in what he has stated will be his final on-screen performance. Teaming up once again with writer/director Paul Thomas Anderson, the pair worked together previously on There Will Be Blood, the actor is terrific in the offbeat drama which I’ll admit I would like more if it didn’t save its best moments (at least plot-wise) for the finale.

Both Vicky Krieps, as the latest in a string of women Woodcock has brought into his life, and Lesley Manville, as Woodcock’s overbearing and controlling sister, raise their games here. In terms of acting, everything about Phantom Thread is first-rate. Where Anderson gets into some trouble is at the script level where the story meanders a bit with the ups-and-downs of Alma’s (Krieps) role within the household and Woodcock’s hot-and-cold reactions towards her. The slow pace is punctuated by some terrific moments (such as the ultra-sensitive dress maker’s overreaction to his Alma’s table manners), but the elaborate period drama certainly takes its time to get to the point.

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The Disaster Artist

by Alan Rapp on December 8, 2017

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: The Disaster Artist
  • IMDb: link

The Disaster Artist movie reviewDo you know the phrase “so bad, it’s good?” James Franco does double duty directing and starring in this behind-the-scenes look at the making of writer, producer, and star Tommy Wiseau‘s (played here by James Franco) The Room which some have dubbed one of the best bad movies ever made akin to the films of Ed Wood.

Dave Franco stars as Tommy’s best-friend Greg who goes with him to Los Angeles to pursue their dreams of becoming Hollywood actors. After struggling to find work, the pair decide to shoot their own film (despite having no expertise on any part of the process). The result is a disaster that became a cult favorite which is still shown in theaters to this day.

The Disaster Artist is basically a one-joke film about untalented people making a movie that people enjoy despite its numerous flaws. Franco’s film doesn’t attempt to explain Tommy Wiseau or the plot of a movie cast members themselves didn’t understand, instead it earnestly looks at the friendship that birthed such a beloved abomination onto the unprepared movie-going public.

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The Post

by Alan Rapp on December 6, 2017

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: The Post
  • IMDb: link

The Post movie reviewThe Post is unquestionably lesser Spielberg and is more comparable to 1994’s The Paper than Spotlight or All the President’s Men in examining a newspaper room chasing down a story. While there’s nothing wrong with that (lesser Spielberg is still Spielberg), and cast and crew still deliver an entertaining and informative film, it never reaches the the heights to which it aspires.

Based on real events, the film focuses on The Washington Post and their decision to follow the lead of The New York Times and publish the results of a leaked government study that would come to be known as the Pentagon Papers and predicted the U.S. failure in Vietnam years before troops were recalled.

Director Steven Spielberg assembles an impressive all-star cast headlined by a terrific performance by Meryl Streep as the paper’s owner Katherine Graham who is faced with tough choices between balancing corporate concerns and her editor Ben Bradlee‘s (Tom Hanks) desire to print despite the U.S. Government’s legal efforts to stop the leaked documents from making it to the front page.

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