Movie Reviews 

Blade Runner 2049

by Alan Rapp on October 2, 2017

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Blade Runner 2049
  • IMDb: link

Blade Runner 2049 movie reviewGood news, bad news. Blade Runner 2049 isn’t as good as the original. It’s also far better than I expected from a sequel no one really ever wanted to see made. While I’d expect the initial reception to be better than the original Blade Runner, the sequel’s plot does have serious plot holes which multiple viewings are likely to further expose.

Set 30 years after the first film (coinciding with the similar gap between the original and the sequel), the world still has plenty of runaway replicants which need to be found and retired. While Deckard (Harrison Ford) has long-since disappeared, the role of our main Blade Runner this time around is played by Ryan Gosling.

Director Denis Villeneuve offers a visually interesting film with several nods to Blade Runner. While the story is more complicated than necessary, and requires characters to ignore specific questions which seem obvious to ask, K’s (Gosling) journey and the mystery he’s tasked to solve does keep things on track (even if Villeneuve gets stuck multiple times dragging out shots and scenes for the visual style long after the plot has been satisfied).

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American Made

by Alan Rapp on September 29, 2017

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: American Made
  • IMDb: link

American Made movie posterWe’ve seen this all before. And even if we’ve seen it done better at times (see Charlie Wilson’s War, The Wolf of Wall Street, The Big Short, American Hustle, and others), American Made certainly entertains. Director Doug Liman and screenwriter Gary Spinelli come together with star Tom Cruise to offer us another one of those stories too crazy not to be true.

Cruise is in fine form. I’ve remarked before that I have always enjoyed the movie star more when he’s able to unleash a bit of the crazy. And American Made certainly has enough crazy to go around. The film is based somewhat loosely on the real experiences of former TWA pilot Barry Seal (Cruise) who went to work for the CIA in the late 70s and 80s running clandestine reconnaissance missions in South America while also working on his own making money smuggling drugs into the United States from Columbia. After introducing us to his Seal, his wife (Sarah Wright) and the CIA agent (Domhnall Gleeson) who enlists him and funds the dubious enterprise, the insanity begins in earnest. What makes things work is Seal is just smart enough to know when to take advantage of the situation and just dumb enough to not know when he’s over his head.

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The LEGO Ninjago Movie

by Alan Rapp on September 24, 2017

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: The LEGO Ninjago Movie
  • IMDb: link

The LEGO Ninjago Movie movie reviewFor years LEGO has released video games, television shows, and straight-to-video movies centered around LEGO characters. The successes of The LEGO Movie and The LEGO Batman Movie at the box office seem to have emboldened the company to try their hands at more theatrical releases. Maybe they should have stopped with Batman.

For those unfamiliar, Ninjago is a LEGO line centered around a group of young ninja heroes protecting the realm of Ninjago and fighting off various enemies including the brother of their instructor Sensei Wu (Jackie Chan), the evil Garmadon (Justin Theroux).

There are several changes to the early seasons of the Ninjago: Masters of Spinjitzu which introduced these characters. Lloyd (Dave Franco), the youngest of the group and son of their arch-nemesis, has been aged to fit more closely with his peers. Meanwhile the rest of the ninjas have all be de-aged to put the entire group in high school. Everyone has also become far less ninja-like with none of our heroes having mastered the elements tied to their powers (something the show dealt with seven or so seasons ago).

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Kingsman: The Golden Circle

by Alan Rapp on September 21, 2017

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Kingsman: The Golden Circle
  • IMDb: link

Kingsman: The Golden Circle movie reviewWhile I enjoyed writer-director Matthew Vaughn‘s absurdly over-the-top (but not that original) Bond spoof, I was far from the biggest fan of Kingsman: The Secret Service. Two years later Vaughn returns with most of the key figures from the first film offering more of the same while widening the world and opening the franchise to new sequel opportunities. The script follows the still unfortunately-named Eggsy (Taron Egerton) as one of the few surviving members of Kingsman which is destroyed by a crazy drug kingpin (Julianne Moore) who has a failed Kingsman recruit (Edward Holcroft) on her payroll.

While the film lacks the big action sequences of the first film or a strong female character to root for – Hanna Alström returns as Princess Tilde but is of little importance to the plot and Roxy (Sophie Cookson) is unfortunately given the extremely early exit I predicted – the sequel hits most of the same beats as the original with a crazy villain with an insane plan and absurd sidekick which Eggsy and friends will have to thwart to save a large percentage of the world’s population. To do that he’ll need the help of some new American friends.

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IT: Chapter One

by Alan Rapp on September 10, 2017

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: IT: Chapter One
  • IMDb: link

IT: Chapter One movie reviewIT isn’t the first time Stephen King’s novel of the same name has been adapted, although it is the first time it has been made into a theatrical release. There are some noticeable differences between the 1990 two-part television mini-series and the latest version from director Andy Muschietti, most notably that this version only offers half the story and alters the timeline of events considerably.

Now set in the late 1980s, the original story arc introduces us the town of Derry and a group of kids who are all outsiders (Jaeden Lieberher, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Sophia Lillis, Finn Wolfhard, Chosen Jacobs, Jack Dylan Grazer, and Wyatt Oleff) who band together in a Losers club for protection against a local bully (Nicholas Hamilton) and something far more sinister (Bill Skarsgård) living in the town’s sewers abducting children. Called “It” by the kids who discover they are not alone in the odd horrific visions each has seen, nearly all of which include an appearance by a scary clown named Pennywise who enjoys frightening and torturing children nearly as much as it does pulling them into the sewer to feed on during his periods of hibernation.

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