Movie Reviews 

Alita: Battle Angel

by Alan Rapp on February 15, 2019

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Alita: Battle Angel
  • IMDb: link

Alita: Battle Angel movie reviewWith an interesting character and set-up, but far too much plot for a single film that feels rushed at times while still getting nowhere close to a definitive ending before the credits roll, Alita: Battle Angel is a mixed success. Adapted by director Robert Rodriguez along with James Cameron and Laeta Kalogridis from a manga series, it was no surprise to me that Cameron orginally saw this as a television project rather than a feature film.

The opening where an apparently worthless robot is found in a junkyard only to be revealed as the best warrior ever reminded me more than a little of Real Steel. The junkyard treasure here is a cyborg (Rosa Salazar) who Dr. Dyson Ido (Christoph Waltz) will find, repair, and name after his daughter Alita. Despite her innocent appearance, Alita proves to quite formidable. As with many recent sci-fi films, Alita: Battle Angel has a strong class warfare aspect as all those we meet are living in the dystopian slums with a privileged class living high above in a floating city. Over the course of the film Alita will begin to remember fragments of her past leading her into conflict with the overseer in the skies above.

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The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part

by Alan Rapp on February 7, 2019

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part
  • IMDb: link

The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part movie reviewEven if it never quite recaptures the full magic of the original, it’s hard to be disappointed with The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part which turns out to be a pretty darn good sequel. The second time around, there’s plenty of zany awesomeness with the return of Emmet Brickowski (Chris Pratt), Lucy (Elizabeth Banks), and Batman (Will Arnett). And the script by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller also throws in a nice message for kids and families about sharing and acceptance and a new adventure which was foreshadowed at the end of the original LEGO Movie. Oh, and there’s a spaceship piloted by Velociraptors.

The arrival of a dangerous new invader to the LEGO world (toys from the younger sister of the previous movie’s mostly-unseen master of bricks) has pushed Emmett and his friends into a dystopian future (which produces one of the most interesting LEGO sets ever made). When Lucy, Batman, Unikitty (Alison Brie), MetalBeard (Nick Offerman), and Benny (Charlie Day) are abducted by an agent of Queen Watevra Wa’Nabi (Tiffany Haddish), it falls on Emmett and his new friend Rex Dangervest (also voiced by Pratt) to save the day.

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Cold War

by Alan Rapp on January 25, 2019

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Cold War
  • IMDb: link

Cold War movie reviewCold War, at least for me, brings up an important distinction about the difference between appreciating a film versus liking it. Too often people look at movies and leave the theater believing on a gut level if they liked a movie it’s great and if they didn’t like it the film must be hot garbage (and quite possibly an attack on everything they hold dear including the entirety of filmmaking and good taste). Centering a story around the on-again off-again romance of a dysfunctional couple in post-WWII Poland and France, writer/director Pawel Pawlikowski produces a film that is easy to appreciate. As for liking it… well, let’s just say the film let me cold.

In terms of look, style, the recreation of the time period, and the beautiful black-and-white cinematography by Lukasz Zal, Cold War certainly delivers. It also offers a pair of strong performances by Tomasz Kot and Joanna Kulig as musicians and lovers who are nearly as dysfunctional when apart as when they are together, making one wonder whether we are supposed to be rooting for the pair to end up together or finally break free of each other.

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Breakable

by Alan Rapp on January 17, 2019

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Glass
  • IMDb: link

Glass movie reviewGlass is an unusual sequel to a pair of movies made 16 years apart which are, at best, only loosely connected by a single scene. The film unites the main character from 2016’s Split with the primary characters from 2000’s Unbreakable, throwing the unlikely trio together to be examined by a psychiatrist (Sarah Paulson) specializing in a growing mental disorder of people believing themselves to be super-heroes.

If you’ve seen either of the previous two M. Night Shyamalan films you know that David Dunn (Bruce Willis) and Kevin Wendell Crumb (James McAvoy) are indeed super-human while Elijah “Mr. Glass” Price (Samuel L. Jackson) fits the bill of the genius super-villain to stir the drink of this unusual cocktail.

Knowing Dr. Staple’s (Paulson) premise is faulty makes it hard to legitimize her point of view, but it does create tension waiting for the truth to be revealed. While messy in spots, and rather slow to get started, Glass is never boring. As expected, the film features a few Shyamalan twists as it delivers a suitable sequel to Split, even if it doesn’t reach anywhere near the heights of Unbreakable.

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The Kid Who Would Be King

by Alan Rapp on January 14, 2019

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: The Kid Who Would Be King
  • IMDb: link

The Kid Who Would Be King movie reviewFar more successful than 2017’s dreary King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, there may be a lesson for Hollywood to adapt a lighter touch when embracing the legend of King Arthur. The Kid Who Would Be King is a family movie that kids are likely to enjoy more than adults, but what surprised me was how smart the film turned out to be and how earnest its themes which will help adults get onboard as well.

After a brief recap of the Arthur legend, the film opens in modern day with a slightly pudgy Alex (Louis Ashbourne Serkis) attempting to save his best friend Bedders (Dean Chaumoo) from a pair of older bullies (Tom Taylor and Rhianna Dorris). While running away from the bullies, Alex stumbles on a sword in a stone which he removes allowing the legend to begin.

Initially discounting what he sees, Alex is forced to believe by the sudden appearance of Merlin (played interchangeably by Patrick Stewart and Angus Imrie) and undead riders from the underworld attempting to retake the sword and deliver it to the evil sorceress Morgana (Rebecca Ferguson), who after being imprisoned for centuries is about to break free.

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