Movie Reviews 

Teen Spirit

by Alan Rapp on April 19, 2019

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Teen Spirit
  • IMDb: link

Teen Spirit movie posterWith Teen Spirit writer/director Max Minghella offers an indie feel to a well-mined Hollywood tale of burgeoning stardom. Elle Fanning stars as a teenager on the Isle of Wight who, despite her mother’s (Agnieszka Grochowska) disapproval, signs up for open auditions for a reality-TV series offering a record contract to the winner of the singing competition. Needing an adult to act as her guardian, and later manager, Violet taps the the old drunk Russian (Zlatko Buric) who enjoys her karaoke at the local dive bar. And, of course, it doesn’t hurt when the film reveals that Vlad was once a well-respected opera singer.

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The Aftermath

by Alan Rapp on April 17, 2019

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: The Aftermath
  • IMDb: link

The Aftermath movie reviewSet in post-WWII Germany where Allied Forces are attempting to restore order, The Aftermath is half a good movie punctuated by the performance of Keira Knightley as a military wife who is uprooted from London to Hamburg where her husband (Jason Clarke) is stationed. While many Germans are homeless and sheltered into camps, the Morgans find themselves housed in the lush estate of a German architect (Alexander Skarsgård) who moves into the attic with his teenage daughter (Flora Thiemann).

As a period drama much of The Aftermath works well. There’s an interesting story to tell here about the role of the winners asserting control over the locals, hunting out Nazi sympathizers, and working to try and help rebuild the broken city. Sadly, much of the story instead is focused on the couple’s troubled marriage and her growing involvement with their host. The film was adapted from Rhidian Brook‘s novel of the same name. I wonder if the affair comes off as tawdry on the printed page. That’s not to say this storyline doesn’t offer moments, such as a terrific scene involving Knightley breaking down while discussing the loss of their child during the war.

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Hellboy

by Alan Rapp on April 13, 2019

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Hellboy (2019)
  • IMDb: link

Hellboy movie reviewGuillermo del Toro‘s Hellboy was a flawed film whose biggest asset was the casting of Ron Perlman as the gruff Hell-spawn destined to end the world, but in the meantime work to fight off monsters and things that go bump in the night for the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense, originally created by comic writer-artist Mike Mignola. Fixing some of the mistakes from his original film, the director went back the drawing board delivering the superior Hellboy II: The Golden Army four years later, but for more than a decade the character has been confined to the comic page (and some straight-to-DVD animated releases).

Director Neil Marshall‘s reboot is a joyless exercise, despite some impressive (and almost always gory) visuals. David Harbour, now cast as the hard-drinking big red hero out to save the world, lacks Perlman’s charm that helped cut through the character’s dickish behavior. What’s so sad about the finished project is that there was obvious understanding and love for the character and universe Mignola created as screenwriter Andrew Cosby squeezes several well-known characters into the story including Nimue (Milla Jovovich), Baba Yaga (Troy James), and Benjamin Daimio (Daniel Dae Kim), among others.

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With One Magic Word… SHAZAM!

by Alan Rapp on April 4, 2019

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: SHAZAM!
  • IMDb: link

SHAZAM! movie reviewOne thing people forget about DC’s Captain Marvel is just how big of a super-hero he was in the Golden Age of comics (arguably more popular than Superman for a time). Fast-forward several decades and the character’s name has changed, although I give credit to Henry Gayden‘s screenplay in purposely obscuring what he should be called in clever way to get around using a name the character can never utter aloud to introduce himself, but the core of the character remains the same (even if he’s a little rougher around the edges on-screen).

Our main character is orphaned teen Billy Batson (Asher Angel) who has been moved to a new foster home after running away yet again in a failed attempt to find his long-lost mother. The good-natured couple (Cooper Andrews and Marta Milans) who take him in already have a cast of kids under their care including Freddy Freeman (Jack Dylan Grazer) who will become Billy’s closest friend and help him in exploring the powers gifted to Billy by the wizard Shazam (Djimon Hounsou).

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Tim Burton’s Dumbo

by Alan Rapp on March 29, 2019

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Dumbo (2019)
  • IMDb: link

Tim Burton's Dumbo movie reviewLove him or hate him, words you don’t usually hear to describe filmmaker Tim Burton are the exact same adjectives which are impossible not to use in talking about the latest Disney live-action remake of one of their animated classics. Burton has delivered a number of memorable films, and when he has failed he has often failed in spectacular fashion. Dumbo isn’t bad, but it’s bland, safe, unoffensive in the extreme, and utterly forgettable. Don’t get me wrong, Dumbo is an okay way to while away a lazy afternoon. The CGI of the title character is impressive, and the performances from the human cast are more than adequate. There’s just not much Disney magic this time around. And since Dumbo never talks, he comes off more of a trick dog than a fully fleshed-out character.

Making the choice that animals don’t talk, to humans or each other, necessitates a rather large change from the original animated film. In the new version, Dumbo’s path from freak to star attraction comes at the assistance of two human children (Nico Parker and Finley Hobbins) and their father (Colin Farrell), recently returned from WWI to the travelling circus run by Max Medici (Danny DeVito).

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