Movie Reviews 

Criminal

by Alan Rapp on April 15, 2016

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Criminal
  • IMDb: link

CriminalThe premise behind screenwriters Douglas Cook and David Weisberg‘s Criminal is fairly ridiculous, even for B-movie action flick. Sadly, it’s not nearly as entertaining as the pair’s 20 year-old collaboration – The Rock. Set in present day, the death of Agent Bill Pope (Ryan Reynolds), who alone has vital information to keep backdoor access into the missile command of the United States out of the hands of a terrorist (Jordi Mollà), causes the CIA to attempt an experimental procedure to implant Pope’s memories into a brain-damaged convict named Jericho (Kevin Costner).

Costner is an interesting choice for a remorseless cold-blooded killer forced to deal with unexpected feelings for a wife (Gal Gadot) and child (Lara Decaro) who are not his own and a mission he never signed-up for. His casting looks to be a huge misstep in the early scenes before Jericho’s operation, but the more conflicted the character becomes over the course of the film Costner’s performance begins to become one of the movie’s biggest strengths.

[click to continue…]

{ 0 comments }

  • Title: The Jungle Book
  • IMDb: link

The Jungle BookAs with Alice in Wonderland, Maleficent, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, and 101 Dalmatians, Disney’s latest attempt to offer a live-action version of one of their classic animated movies offers mixed results. Originally based on the stories of Rudyard Kipling, 1967’s The Jungle Book took us into the jungle to follow the adventures of Mowgli the Man Cub (Neel Sethi), a young orphan raised by wolves. Rather than offer a straight reinterpretation of Kipling’s work or a direct live-action version of Disney’s animated feature, the new movie attempts to do both leading to an uneven story that is too dark for its lighter moments and simple bizarre when it tries to recreate animated sequences (such as Mowgli and Baloo singing “Bare Necessities” down the river) in realistic CGI.

The choice to cast well-known actors in the main CGI roles also turns out to be a questionable decision. While Ben Kingsley and Idris Elba are used well, and the plodding plot certainly picks up with the introduction of Baloo (Bill Murray), Murray isn’t so much acting here as doing his own shtick which, while entertaining, works against creating the seamless reality needed to sell the story.

[click to continue…]

{ 0 comments }

Midnight Special

by Alan Rapp on April 8, 2016

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Midnight Special
  • IMDb: link

Midnight SpecialWriter/director Jeff Nichols‘ latest is an unusual movie more likely to appeal to sci-fi nerds than the general public. Midnight Special is a good science fiction movie with two major flaws which keep it from becoming the great science fiction movie that starts out with so much promise during its first half-hour.

Without preamble or set-up, we’re thrown into the middle of the action involving the abduction of a young boy named Alton Meyer (Jaeden Lieberher) from a religious cult by Alton’s biological father Roy (Michael Shannon) and Roy’s childhood friend Lucas (Joel Edgerton). It doesn’t take long us to suspect that Alton is no ordinary boy and why the cult, the United States Government, and Roy all have very different plans for Alton and his unique gifts.

A common problem in films like this is when they remind the audience of better films from which they borrow story elements. And Midnight Special borrows heavily. Although not in their class, Midnight Special will remind you of movies such as Close Encounters of the Third Kind, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Starman, and countless others.

[click to continue…]

{ 0 comments }

Batman v Superman: Trainwreck of Justice

by Alan Rapp on March 24, 2016

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
  • IMDb: link

Batman v Superman: Dawn of JusticeWhat did I just watch? Returning to the scene of the crime while building on the shaky foundation of 2013’s Man of Steel, a film which turned DC Comic’s moral center into a cold-blooded killer, director Zack Snyder and writer David S. Goyer expand DC’s bleak, joyless universe with Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.

Shot in Snyder’s “cinematic” style of making every shot look like a music video, the incoherent plot makes poor use of its stars who attempt in vain to keep this Titanic from heading straight towards the iceberg at full speed. Cobbled together from a number of sources, most notably Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns and The Death of Superman, DC’s attempt to jump-start a Justice League franchise is an uneven mess of goo thrown against a wall in the vain hope that something might stick.

What’s surprising, given my dislike for Man of Steel, is the fact that Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice isn’t an awful movie – just an incompetent one. While it’s certainly not good, the movie introduces several interesting ideas (even if it doesn’t quite know what to do with any of them).

[click to continue…]

{ 2 comments }

Zootopia

by Alan Rapp on March 4, 2016

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Zootopia
  • IMDb: link

ZootopiaPart wacky buddy movie, part crime drama, part small town girl in the big city, there’s no shortage of themes in Disney’s latest animated feature Zootopia. Boasting three directors and more than a half-dozen writers, the various story elements pull the movie in numerous directions over its 108-minute running time. What the film lacks in a coherent vision it makes for in old-school animated fun.

Zootopia has two great strengths. The first is the world itself which is excellently designed and large enough to encompass far more stories than just the mystery we’re given here. The second is its leading lady in spunky new police officer Judy Hopps (Ginnifer Goodwin) whose can-do attitude never falters, even when everyone around her scoffs at the idea of a bunny cop.

After a terrific sequence giving us a look at Judy as a kid, and some basic backstory of her cop training, the story starts in earnest once Officer Hopps hits the big city. Relegated to thankless assignments, Hopps enlists the help of a fox (Jason Bateman) to solve a series of disappearances.

[click to continue…]

{ 1 comment }