Movie Reviews 

Gemini Man

by Alan Rapp on October 10, 2019

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Gemini Man
  • IMDb: link

Gemini Man movie reviewNot finding any living actors worthy enough to share the silver screen with, Will Smith faces off against himself in Gemini Man. The action film with sci-fi underpinnings cast Smith as retiring government assassin Henry Brogan who is targeted by his own government (for mostly unintelligible reasons only important to draw him into the larger story). The man leading the hunt for Brogan is the assassin’s former boss Clay Verris (Clive Owen), now the head of a multi-national private security force with an oh-so-cute name chosen to reinforce the movie’s ridiculous plot. And with a name like Clay Verris is it any wonder he turned into a villain?

Gemini Man has all the ammunition in needs for a ridiculous, over-the-top action flick. Instead director Ang Lee and his cast take the entire series of events (Verris cloning Brogan and raising him as his son, who he then sends out to kill his genetic donor) seriously. While Brogan notices the odd similarities between himself and his clone, it takes the younger version (who gets quite a few up close moments with his target) far longer to suspect there is more going on than just another target to eliminate.

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Abominable

by Alan Rapp on September 26, 2019

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  • Title: Abominable
  • IMDb: link

Abominable movie reviewWhen it chooses to lead with its heart, DreamWorks can create a moving movie experience. More than a bit reminiscent of How to Train Your Dragon, the latest animated feature from the studio centers around a Chinese teenager named Yi (Chloe Bennet) who encounters an Abominable Snowman (Joseph Izzo) on the rooftop of her apartment building and decides to help her new friend find his way back home to the Himalayas. Along for the ride are brothers Peng (Albert Tsai) and Jin (Tenzing Norgay Trainor) who find themselves reluctant traveling companions on a quest to stay three steps ahead of a wealthy billionaire (Eddie Izzard) and his private security army hoping to recapture the creature and return it to the lab it broke out at the beginning of the film.

“Everest,” as Yi names him, offers the same mix of cute and dangerous that Toothless provided in How to Train Your Dragon. Yi’s backstory, including her distance from her mother and grandmother and a recent family loss, help ground the emotional story while Everest provides the magic. As with Toothless, Everest is revealed to be more than he seems leading to an emotional whammy as Everest’s journey offers Yi an unexpected gift.

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Ad Astra

by Alan Rapp on September 20, 2019

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Ad Astra
  • IMDb: link

Ad Astra movie reviewAd Astra is a slow, thoughtful film at least as interested in the character study of an astronaut as the dangers lurking in outer space. Set in the “near future,” Brad Pitt stars as astronaut Roy McBride sent to Mars on a top secret mission to end the power surges that are affecting the planet (and nearly killing Roy in the opening scene). The surges are coming from the edge of the solar system where Roy’s father H. Clifford McBride (Tommy Lee Jones) and his expedition disappeared decades ago.

While not as engaging as The Martian or as ambitious as Gravity or Contact, Ad Astra does provide a fine performance by Pitt to center its story. The always reliable, but not remarkable, McBride is put through the paces in the latest mission that gets personal far too easily for the stoic astronaut who has made a career by ignoring his feelings.

Sci-fi fans will no doubt enjoy various space obstacles that Roy will struggle to work through in order to reach Neptune, although there’s no much we haven’t seen done better before (and the space monkeys are best forgotten altogether).

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Official Secrets

by Alan Rapp on September 13, 2019

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Official Secrets
  • IMDb: link

Official Secrets movie reviewThe world could use a few more people like Katherine Gun. Based on the true story of a British Intelligence officer discovering her government’s willingness to assist the United States in moving forward with an invasion of Iraq regardless of actual facts, director Gavin Hood‘s film stays focused on the personal cost to whistleblower Katherine Gun (Keira Knightley) as the film takes us through her discovery of a memo from the NSA asking for help blackmailing nations on the United Nations Security Council in order to rubber stamp the 2003 Iraq invasion through to her day in court a year later.

Knightley is terrific in the role of the defiant but terrified woman whose actions cause ramifications not just for herself but for her husband (Adam Bakri) who is nearly deported by a spiteful government that leaves her twisting in the wind for the better part of a year. Her supporting cast isn’t too shabby either including Matt Smith as the reporter who broke the story (but who only shares a single scene with Knightley on-screen), Rhys Ifans as another reporter on the scent, and Ralph Fiennes and Matthew Goode who emerge when the case moves to trial.

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Hustlers

by Alan Rapp on September 12, 2019

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Hustlers
  • IMDb: link

Hustlers movie review“Stripper movie” isn’t a term that often imbues a viewer with confidence. That said, the true story adapted for film by writer/director Lorene Scafaria (Seeking a Friend for the End of the World) exceeded my expectations. While not great, Hustlers is solidly entertaining and far from the fiasco of Showgirls.

Set in the early 2000s, the film focuses on a struggling stripper’s (Constance Wu) friendship with the club’s main attraction, Ramona (Jennifer Lopez). Taking the newbie under her wing, Ramona helps Destiny (Wu) earn enough money to keep her grandmother’s house and pay for several high-end shopping trips. The script offers some insight into a stripper’s mentality towards her clients (as Destiny learns to bilk them of as much money as possible).

Stradding the 2008 Wall Street crash, the film shows us the glory days of high-price clients for Ramona and Destiny and the slim pickings just a few years later where the pair, and a couple of new girls (Keke Palmer and Lili Reinhart) step-up their game from maximimizing a drunk client’s spend to actually drugging them and maxing out their credit cards.

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