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Rating History

Kong: Skull Island
7 months ago via Flixster

The second entry in the new Monsterverse at the WB following 2014's Godzilla, Kong; Skull Island I am sure will attract mixed reviews no doubt since it suffers from the classic syndrome as do other films in the genre where the humans themselves lack very little character development, the true heroes of the piece are the monsters and the world itself that they inhabit, which in that case the filmmakers succeed. The amped up size of Kong looks absolutely astounding, especially when he arrives to greet the helicopter envoy as they arrive on the island, taking each one out in rapid succession with great camera angles and composition, I am sure a lot of inspiration came from Larry Fond and his service time with Zack Snyders comic book films. Also the fact that they decided to place this film in the 70's and use Apocalypse Now as a visual and auditory influence made things very fun and dynamic. Also seeing Kong fighting against the skull crushers as John C Reiley calls them in the climax goes toe to toe with the triple T Rex fight with Kong from the 2005 version as one of the best segments put to film in the characters cannon. But unfortunately, when the monsters aren't on screen the proceedings slow to a crawl outside of Samuel L Jackon's Ahab character chasing the proverbial whale, seemingly the only actor who knows what type of film he is in, everyone else from Hiddleston who seems to be extremely uncharismatic as the leading man and Brie Larson in her first post Oscar role literally just pointing a camera and petting the big guy and that is about it, one would have hoped for a little bit of human connection in between the bangs and the bumps in the night to keep the engagement going through the visit. Hopefully it will be something they address in future installments as I am curious to see how this creature feature series will stack up against the incoming Universal Monster series starting with the Mummy in the summer. Frustrating but visually stimulating at the same time.

Beauty and the Beast
7 months ago via Flixster

Following the other fad coming out of the Mouse House of dusting off the animated classics for a new generation and making it in live action (albeit Jungle Book was a close exception with it being a lot of digital pixels for its primarily animal cast), Beauty and the Beast is the first attempt at cranking out the same formula except with one of its golden era classics from the 90's that has a huge built in audience and prestige with it being the first animated film being nominated for the Best Picture Oscar, and due to the high familiarity and prestige, it falls under most of the weight with minimal highlights to distinguish itself from the predecessor. When strictly acting Emma Watson does a fair job as the plucky Belle giving her range and standing up to the chauvinistic advances of Gaston, but noticably especially in the opening mountain range scene her singing voice is noticably lacking in terms of bravado which indicates that it was a good thing she skipped out on La La Land since she would have garnered a lot of criticism for that as well there and more noticably. Most of the casting outside of the lead was strictly just ok, similar critiques can be made out of the autotuned Beast, most notably with his climatic song in the final act, with the only true note worthy well rounded performance funnily enough coming from Luke Evans as Gaston, perfectly nailing the combination of cartoon vanity, broad humour and menace that the role deserves and made the character a standout in the 1992 version. Between the lastlustre casting, the film as a whole in terms of production values seem to lack the punch and dimentionality of Cinederlella and Jungle Book, with a lot of the matte paintings and dressings and even CGI characters looking dull, and not as detailed as one would have hoped, as if a budget job had been done in the hopes of this being a quick cash in on the property, with only the Be Our Guest and titular track getting the budget since the filmmakers knew they would be criticized if the money was not on screen for those. Maybe Bill Condon was just playing it too safe or has lost the creative drive after all those years on the Twilight franchise but out of all the films they could have skimped on, this isn't th eone. Disappointing.

Michael Jackson's Journey From Motown to Off the Wall
7 months ago via Flixster
½

Journey from Motown to off the Wall is Spike Lee's second documentary following Michael Jackson's career with some of his more "less lauded" albums projects, in this case the creative arc he took with first the Jacksons straight out of Motown and the material that they did together, before connecting with mentor Quincy Jones on the Wiz which led him to the landmark Off the Wall album which was a huge hit and provided some great tracks at the tail end of disco and perfectly positioned him for success with Thriller. A lot of pop culture icons are brought into provide commentary on that period from Rosie Perez, the drummer from the Roots, Quincy Jones, Pharrell and Lee Daniels, and what tracks or moments, particularly how Michael was able to cross so many boundaries at that time, especially in pop culture and on the dance floor. Bad 25 is still my preferred doc since that was right at the height of my childhood and I have more connection to that album. Journey from motown to Off the Wall is a decent representation and insight to that period of Jacko's career which may have been over shadowed by other hits and controveries. Solid.

Logan
Logan (2017)
7 months ago via Flixster

Not to sound too cliche but Logan is the Wolverine film that a lot of fans of the character has been waiting for. Taking its direction from the Old Man Logan comics, the audience jump into the proceedings in a time where the mutants are all but wiped out with Logan and the Professor along with their tracker Caliban the sole survivors of whatever has killed the mutant race off (it is suggested that it may in fact have been the professor himself during the Winchester incident which is never fully described, just mentioned several times to imply that). On the run due to the Professor's dwindling health due to the onset of parkinsons making his telepathic seizures almost WMD like, they are hoping to make it to the ocean where he cannot harm anyone before a former nurse catches up to them with a little girl in tow who happens to be the result of a genetic experiment essentially making her Logan's biological daughter, claws and berserker rage and all.the film plays out as a old school western with genre elements in play, being the existence of mutants and the Reapers which are the protagonists on the heroes tail, part man and part machine, and the proceedings are done as grounded as possible to make the action scenes as brutal as possible. Blood is flying and the wounds that X23 and Logan deliver are very much seen and felt, this is going to make a lot of fans very satisfied. But what makes the film really work is the fact that Dafne Keen, the little girl who plays X23 is a very deft young performer, really selling her performances physicality since it is pretty demanding, and also sells the fact she is essentially a mute for th8e first half of the film before just developing a great bond with Jackman in the last half of the film bilingually no less. The fact she holds her own so well really sells the climax of the film to help Jackman go out with a band. A slam dunk first hit of the year no qualms about it :)

The Last Of Robin Hood
7 months ago via Flixster

The Last of Robin Hood might have been more interesting with Producer Todd Haynes in the directors chair as opposed to whom I am assuming are proteges, and plays as a tamer version of the Hollywood HBO films that came out in the late 90's such as the Rat Pack and RKO 281, but here it acts as even a pale version of Hitchcock which I believe beat it to theatres shortly before its release. Focusing on the last year or so of his life, Last of Robin Hood focuses on the titular character played by Kevin Kline meeting what would turn out to be his final fling and almost wife played by Dakota Fanning, an aspiring performer triple threat being pushed into the industry by her stage mom played by Susan Sarandan. Of course which tends to be the case and given Flynn's reputation, an inappropriate relationship ensues causing a lot of sensationalism particularly at his death. The film itself is shot alright with that 50's dream like quality and the actors do what they can with the material but given the subject matter of the film and the natural scuziness of the other side of Hollywood provided in that era, The Last of Robin Hood seems to lack that bit or edge that would make things more gripping and uncomfortable., A seemingly wasted opportunity. Meh.