Movie Reviews 

Extra Ordinary

by Alan Rapp on March 6, 2020

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Extra Ordinary
  • IMDb: link

Extra Ordinary movie reviewExtra Ordinary has the advantages and disadvantages one would expect from a writing and directing team working on their first feature. There’s certainly style and out-of-box thinking on display here, although the film is still quite rough around the edges.

We’re offered two stories that will eventual intertwine. The first, and more successful, involves lonely Irish driving instructor Rose Dooley (Maeve Higgins) whose paranormal powers she has been afraid to use since childhood. Meeting a likable-enough bloke (Barry Ward), who has troubles both with a home haunted by his deceased wife and a daughter (Claudia O’Doherty) under possession, forces Rose to dig back into her childhood skills (and pull out the old VCR tapes of her father’s paranormal infomercials).

The movie’s other story ties into possessed Claudia (O’Doherty) whose current plight was caused by one-hit wonder Christian Winter (Will Forte) hoping that sacrificing a virgin to Satan will provide him with inspiration for another hit. It’s in Forte’s segments that the film veers closest to going off-course, but Mike Ahern and Enda Loughman keep things on track.

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The Way Back

by Alan Rapp on March 5, 2020

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: The Way Back
  • IMDb: link

The Way Back movie reviewThe simplest way to describe The Way Back would be if a Hallmark movie and a sports movie had a baby. Pulling from two separate genres, the film from director Gavin O’Connor doesn’t have to strain too hard as it uses the basic tropes of each as a crutch for much of its running time. The film introduces us to former star basketball player Jack Cunningham (Ben Affleck) who is lured out of his alcoholic haze by his old Catholic high school in need of an emergency replacement for their down-on-their-luck basketball team. Apparently the need for a coach was dire enough that Cunningham being well-known as the local slush wasn’t enough to immediately eliminate him from contention.

At first reluctant to take the job, Cunningham accepts the added responsibility and stress while dealing with a serious drinking problem, a broken marriage, and recent tragedy in his family. If Affleck’s character was a song, it would be a country song. As for his team, it’s the expected motley group of kids smaller and less athletically gifted than most of their competition, but when both the coach and players buy-in and put their noses to the grindstone… well, you know the rest.

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Onward, But Not Necessarily Upward

by Alan Rapp on March 4, 2020

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Onward
  • IMDb: link

Onward movie reviewWritten and directed by Dan Scanlon (Monsters University), the latest entry to the Pixar universe is one of the weakest in the company’s catalog. Set around broader and more generic characters than we’ve come to expect from Pixar, Onward is a story-driven tale that doesn’t hit the emotional beats nearly as well as many of the studio’s previous films. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still a passable animated feature, it’s just not… magical.

Onward has the ingredients which should hit home for me personally, yet it does not. It focuses on an introverted character finding his path and involves Dungeons & Dragons role playing adventure. Maybe such themes have just been mined too long by film and TV in recent years to leave much new ground to cover.

The wacky road trip movie stars Tom Holland and Chris Pratt as a pair of brothers living in a fantasy world that has lost most of its magic. Given the opportunity to spend one day with the father they lost as children, the pair race to complete a spell that has only resurrected the lower-half of their dad.

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The Call of the Wild

by Alan Rapp on February 21, 2020

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: The Call of the Wild
  • IMDb: link

The Call of the Wild movie reviewThe Call of the Wild, adapted from the Jack London novel of the same name, follows the journey of a St. Bernard/Scotch Collie named Buck who ends up in the Yukon as a sled dog after being stolen from his owner (Bradley Whitford) and sold north. The CGI-enhanced mutt is the main character of the film, while making friends (Harrison Ford, Omar Sy, Cara Gee) and enemies (Dan Stevens) along the way with both men and dogs. CGI is used on Buck to enhance the pooch’s emotions. The effect works in most cases, but there are scenes where it does feel a little disturbing.

Adapted by screenwriter Michael Green (Blade Runner 2049, Green Lantern), the straightforward tale of a heroic dog offers an earnest family-friendly film. I will admit I found both Buck and his journey more enjoyable than I expected. Buck is easy to root while the rest of the film’s characters are mostly cast in simple terms as good, evil, or indifferent. Released by the rebranded 20th Century Studios (renamed after Disney acquired Fox), the movie will no doubt play for years on Disney+ making a suitable companion piece to something like Eight Below or any one of the various Benji films.

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It’s All Downhill From Here

by Alan Rapp on February 14, 2020

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Downhill
  • IMDb: link

Downhill movie reviewIt’s surprising to me that a film co-written and co-directed by Jim Rash could turn out to be such a joyless exercise in futility. Along with Nat Faxon, Rash attempts to remake the Swedish dramedy Force Majeure for American audiences. Something obviously got lost in the translation.

Will Ferrell and Julia Louis-Dreyfus star as Pete and Billie, a married spending a ski vacation in the Alps with their two sons. The family witnesses a controlled avalanche that terrifies them, but actually never put the members of the family in any real danger. Pete running away to save himself creates tension among the group, especially when he fails to acknowledge or apologize for his actions.

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