Movie Reviews 

Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood

by Alan Rapp on July 29, 2019

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood
  • IMDb: link

Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood movie reviewThe latest from writer/director Quentin Tarantino includes all the trappings that fans have come to expect over the past two decades. Overly talky, in need of a little editing, with a few too many shots of his characters’ feet, Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood is still quite entertaining and easily the best film Tarantino has made since 2009’s Inglourious Basterds. Most comparable with Death Proof, Once Upon a Time offers a slow build-up focused on character and snappy dialogue before jumping headfirst into an explosive finale.

Set in 1969 Hollywood, the plot follows the exploits of western star Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) on the downside of his career, his friend and stuntman Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt), his new neighbor Sharon Tate (Margot Robbie), and the Manson Family. The separate threads will eventually intertwine late in the film’s final act on one fateful night in the Hollywood Hills, but for most of the film Tarantino takes his time with each, featuring the Dalton/Booth friendship most prominently with plenty of inserts of the the actor’s glory days as the star of Bounty Law which came to an abrupt end after he started chasing a movie career.

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Spider-Man: Far From Home

by Alan Rapp on July 1, 2019

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Spider-Man: Far From Home
  • IMDb: link

Spider-Man: Far From Home movie reviewFollowing the events of Avengers: Endgame, a movie you will definitely want to see before sitting down for this one, Spider-Man: Far From Home centers around Peter Parker (Tom Holland) struggling to fill the void left by Earth’s mightiest heroes while also trying to enjoy his high school class trip to Europe.

There’s quite a bit screenwriters Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers (both who also helped write Spider-Man: Homecoming) get right. One of the oldest Spidey tropes is Peter Parker being crushed by the responsibility thrust upon him at such a young age. The loss of Iron Man, and expectations for him to grow into “the next Iron Man,” are overwhelming for the teenage super-hero just wanting to protect the neighborhood and find time to admit his feelings to the girl he likes (Zendaya).

The script offers a new threat in elemental monsters from a parallel Earth and Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal), a hero who has tracked them here. When Peter’s summer trip is hijacked by Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) he has no choice but to help Mysterio fight the threat as he struggles with his destiny.

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Yesterday

by Alan Rapp on June 27, 2019

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Yesterday
  • IMDb: link

Yesterday movie reviewYesterday is a feel-good summer movie with a non-traditional leading man, an intriguing idea, and a terrific soundtrack. The film has everything it needs to succeed, but, despite being thoroughly entertaining for much of its running time, never reaches the heights it should given what it has to work with. Even enjoying Yesterday for what it is, it’s hard not to be at least a bit disappointed for what it might have been.

The set-up is simple. A struggling musician (Himesh Patel) wakes up to a world where only he remembers the Beatles. Remembering enough of their music to pass off some of their hits as his own, he finds fame and popularity for the first time while feeling the weight of his lie and the the ever-increasing pressure to continue to produce more and more of the band’s hits. Although it does corner our protagonist into only one likely outcome, leaving little room for surprises (other than one small twist involving the recurring appearance of a pair of ominous characters), when director Danny Boyle‘s film stays focused on Jack Malik’s (Patel) musical rise to stardom (and the humorous moments involved, such as trying to remember the lyrics to “Elanor Rigby“) the movie is everything you want for light summer viewing.

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Toy Story 4

by Alan Rapp on June 20, 2019

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Toy Story 4
  • IMDb: link

Toy Story 4 movie reviewAt some point Disney and Pixar may go too far with the Toy Story franchise and jump the proverbial shark which always seems to be lurking just around the corner of the next sequel. Thankfully, that day is not today. Despite the fitting conclusion Toy Story 3 offered to the franchise in having the toys find new life with a new owner, Toy Story 4 comes up with a new story that (while not as emotional as either the second or third entries into the franchise) provides an abundance of quirky and zany humor reminiscent of the original Toy Story.

Without breaking too much with tradition, the set-up is simple as a toy is lost and other toys set out to bring it home. This time the toy in question is a makeshift toy Bonnie (Madeleine McGraw) creates on the first day of Kindergarten called Forky (Tony Hale) who, despite the child’s love, still yearns for the trashcan from whence the spork came from. Woody (Tom Hanks), who is struggling with his position of no longer being a favorite toy, claims responsibility for the spork. This means going after Forky who escapes on a road trip leading Woody to encounter new toys and one old friend.

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  • Title: X-Men: Dark Phoenix
  • IMDb: link

X-Men: Dark Phoenix movie reviewAbandoning any further attempts to reconnect with the original timeline in Bryan Singer’s X-Men, Dark Phoenix offers Sony a second chance at the “Dark Phoenix Saga,” so thoroughly botched in X-Men: The Last Stand. Set in the early 1990s where the X-Men have gone from outcasts to national heroes, the film centers around Game of Thrones star Sophie Turner as X-Man Jean Grey struggling to deal with new powers after exposure to a cosmic entity that overwhelms her personality and breaks down walls in her mind meant to hide traumatic events.

Dark Phoenix clears the lowest bar fairly easily, it’s better than X-Men: The Last Stand. Then again, so is a lukewarm Diet Coke. While Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult, and James McAvoy are all holdovers from X-Men: First Class, the film primarily focuses on Jean Grey who was only introduced in (the mostly forgettable) X-Men: Apocalypse forcing fans to think back to Famke Janssen‘s performance to have any real connection to the character. It doesn’t help that Jean’s main relationships in the film are with the bland Tye Sheridan as the boyfriend with which she shares no on-screen chemistry or Professor X (McAvoy) in full-on asshole mode for most of the film.

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