Movie Reviews 

Pokémon Detective Pikachu

by Alan Rapp on May 9, 2019

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Pokémon Detective Pikachu
  • IMDb: link

Pokémon Detective Pikachu movie reviewDespite having no connection to Pokémon, I really wanted to like Pokémon Detective Pikachu which casts Ryan Reynolds as the voice of a talking Pikachu only he can understand. The cute creature, who apparently no one ever thought to name, is the Pokémon partner to missing Police Detective Harry Goodman. Despite its amnesia, the Pokémon convinces the estranged son (Justice Smith) of its partner that the Pokémon can uncover the truth of what happened to Harry.

The world created by director Rob Letterman and his team is visually stimulating which makes it all more confounding that the script is so bland and uninteresting. How can a movie that looks this good be so boring? Even Reynolds, whose toned-down PG wisecracks and adorable furry on-screen visage, can’t save the film from a convoluted murder mystery that never leads anywhere interesting (other than a complete rip-off of the climax of Tim Buron’s Batman). Fans of the franchise happy just to see the character on the big screen may be able to overlook the project’s many flaws, but for the rest of us it’s hard to see Pokémon Detective Pikachu as anything more than an uninspired mess of untapped potential.

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Avengers: Endgame

by Alan Rapp on April 23, 2019

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Avengers: Endgame
  • IMDb: link

Avengers: Endgame movie reviewMore than the culmination of the Marvel Cinematic Universe that began back in 2008 with Iron Man, Avengers: Endgame is the coda to the series that climaxed in the last chapter and now offers an opportunity for one last hurrah, for heroes to take their final bow, and for Marvel to usher out one set of lead characters and set the stage anew.

For my money, the most successful films of the past 11 years have been The Avengers, Avengers: Infinity War, and Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Excluding Winter Soldier, a great standalone film which cares nothing at all about larger continuity (it basically wrecked Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. after all), both Avengers and Infinity War faced enormous obstacles in pulling together various threads of the MCU into a single story. And both succeeded brilliantly. Avengers: Endgame comes off like their less-successful younger brother. I’m not going to call Endgame the Frank Stallone of the Avengers franchise as it may outshine Avengers: The Age of Ultron, but it’s a messy final chapter that offers plenty of memorable moments while failing to live up to what has come before.

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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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