Joshua Sheetz's Profile - Rotten Tomatoes

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Rating History

Get Out
Get Out (2017)
1 day ago via Rotten Tomatoes

There has been a substantial amount of ink spilled over the mega-successful horror-thriller Get Out, and I almost feel I have little to contribute that hasn't already been said before and better. But, as a hack critic I do try to evaluate movies on their merits nevertheless, so if you are looking for grandiose social commentary this is not the place. You're here to see if this movie is worth your money or time. In short, yes, Get Out is a taut and well-crafted picture with a relevant message on its mind and if you are one of the hundred people in North America who has not seen it, you probably need to take care of that. The main plot centers around a young African-American male and his white girlfriend making the big step of visiting her upper-middle class family and meeting her neighbors. But clearly something is amiss... Get Out functions as a hybrid of Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, The Stepford Wives, and Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

Most notably the film's messaging seems appropriate for the nightmare that is Donald Trump's America, but Get Out has daggers for upper-middle class liberals with seemingly good intentions but hidden racist actions and ideals. The setting almost seems to betray the truth. The white family in question lives in an upscale home that resembles a Georgian manor complete with black servants. And in a location that looks more rural Deep South than suburban Connecticut. (It's not subtle but people are pretty fuckin dumb so you have to scream PLANTATION for them to get it.) The main character is a presented as a bit of an everyman played by Daniel Kaluuya, but it's interesting to watch how he interacts with different people and he displays a healthy amount of wit. Allison Williams gives the most multilayered performance, as she starts the film as a sympathetic girlfriend character and becomes something else quite entirely. Oh, and Lil Rel Howery proved hilarious in a movie that I didn't realize needed a good laugh or two along the way. Jordan Peele proves a competent director for the most part, especially with atmosphere and tension. In fact, I would say about 75% of the film is downright untouchable. However, Get Out does become a bit absurd toward the end, and where the first two acts were in line with a Twilight Zone episode, the last twenty minutes more closely resemble a grindhouse or exploitation movie. I get the allure of revenge fantasy, considering the subject matter, but I'm docking off points for the mindless indulgence out of left field.

In summation, yes Get Out is a competent thriller dealing with social issues that you will need to see as it will be a topic and reference point in our pop culture discussion for years to come. And it's pretty damn creepy too. So there's that. Get in.

Logan (2017)
5 days ago via Rotten Tomatoes

It is a known fact that 20th Century Fox's X-Men franchise has revolved, wisely or not, around Hugh Jackman's Wolverine. We forget and take it for granted that Jackman gave his own unique take on the character, made him simultaneously an action hero and a sex symbol, and left his mark on Wolverine that will both live on in the comics and in the movies featuring the Uncanny X-Men. It's unfortunate that X-Men Origins: Wolverine was the dumpster fire that it was, but at least The Wolverine was a solid movie, before it fell apart in the third act. But Logan is a different monster altogether and it comes out of left field with no direct connection to the previous X-Men movies (which was probably a wise decision). Director James Mangold takes what did work on his previous entry The Wolverine, and throws out the shlock which brought it and so many X-Men movies down, resulting in a lean and mean yarn about violent men on the edge of civilization. It's a weighty R-rated drama that LOOSELY adapts the Old Man Logan alternate universe series by Mark Millar. Logan, is essentially, a Cormac McCarthy post-modern Western with themes of loneliness, family, sacrifice, and yes - mortality. The human condition, wrapped up in a bloody, violent, depressing, and introspective nutshell.

Jackman gives a bravura performance as deep and meaningful as his work in Prisoners or other more acclaimed dramas and his transformation into a bitter, alcoholic, and forlorn man with no future is something to behold. I suspect this man will win an Oscar eventually, and if he doesn't then it matters not - he is the genuine article and this film proves it. Patrick Stewart is an international treasure for the ages and it must not be ignored that he too has left an indelible mark on Charles Xavier. A good chunk of the film revolves around the conversations between these two and Charles' need to teach Logan one more lesson. Stewart clearly has much fondness for the character and watching his mind slip into dementia is a hard thing to watch, but he provides the heart of the movie and its most meaningful subtext in regards to the movie's message. And yes, newcomer Dafne Keen provides great entertainment and a promise of a new future heroine as X-23, a new female Wolverine who is still just a child on the run from evil government agents who wish to use her as a (you guessed it) super soldier. The plot and villains are fairly stereotypical, but they are merely the backdrop to a deep and engrossing character study that just happens to feature mutants and superpowers occasionally.

The soundtrack, direction, cinematography, and violent encounters are near flawless and the sparse western American locations suggest an apocalypse has happened. And in the case of our mutant characters, it kind of has. Many have compared Logan to the acclaimed video game The Last of Us, and I suppose visually and somewhat thematically this is true to a point. But, I believe it has more in common with the late John Wayne era classic The Cowboys, in particular the third act. (Look it up.) This is a must see, and I cannot emphasize it enough, even for people who care little about the X-Men or the genre in general. It has the emotional punch and gravitas that most award-winning dramas strive for and fail utterly in achieving. Logan is the end of one story and the beginning of another. You're gonna carry that weight.

John Wick: Chapter 2
20 days ago via Rotten Tomatoes

The success of the original John Wick has surprised me. I always suspected John Wick would become a cult classic, but to become an adult-themed phenomenon a breath away from Deadpool was quite unexpected. So, a follow up was inevitable. John Wick: Chapter 2 aims to be the bigger, better sequel that most action movie sequels aspire to be. And in this case it succeeds - it one-ups the original completely. It has many of the same elements - stylistic action, with great one-shot cinematography, beautiful color palette, John Woo inspired gunfights, and a relatively simple plot. And you get that enthusiastic and committed performance from Keanu Reeves - a man who performs many of his own stunts and is probably a real-life firearms and martial arts expert at this point. It's superior to the original in that the plot is a little less cartoonish and it takes it time in developing its story and setup, before shit hits the fan. This brings it in line with its Hong Kong/John Woo influences and makes me more enthusiastic to sing this movie's praises.

There are plenty of small roles and cameos (Laurence Fishburne, Common, Franco Nero, Claudia Gerini), but Ruby Rose stole quite a bit of the show as a mute henchman. And Ian McShane is as cool as a tall glass of water in his returning role in this franchise. This is precisely the kind of action movie we claim to want more of, and for once, people have actually put their money where their mouth is. If you haven't seen it already then go ahead and rent this. John Wick may actually go down in movie history as one of the best "rental franchises" ever made. And somehow that doesn't feel like a backhanded compliment.

P.S. You know Hollywood is probably kicking themselves in the nuts for not making that once promised Cowboy Bebop movie with Keanu Reeves. That and wishing they had not gambled on Ghost in the Shell, which let's be completely honest with ourselves, is probably going to suck and cost a few people their jobs. Yeah.

The Lego Batman Movie
22 days ago via Rotten Tomatoes

What makes Lego Batman so remarkable is how earnest it is. There has been much discussion of this movie trying to be a send up of the modern, darker and serious takes on Batman. But to me, it felt more self-contained than that. It merely tells a story about a self-absorbed egomaniac coming to grips with his need for a family and tells it well. It ends up being one of the most heartfelt and didactic children's movies this side of Zootopia. No, it doesn't have the twist or shock and awe of The Lego Movie. But it engrosses its audience in its surprisingly serious narrative all the same.

Now, obviously I have a vested interest in this movie. Lego Batman is, in fact, the mascot of our humble movie blog. And Batman and his mythos is perhaps one of my favorite things ever, as many of you are PAINFULLY aware. However, it was actually the intelligent and deconstructive knife that The Lego Movie used that excited me for this picture. And there is more of the same brilliance here. Will Arnett plays the same obnoxious windbag that he did before. He follows a bit of an arc similar to Emmett from Lego Movie. The difference is where Emmett had to be umm...less stupid and clueless in order to evolve, Batman has to be less of a selfish, lonely jerk. Arnett knows how to play up comedic hijinks and dramatic moments quite fluidly and in his own off-beat way belongs in the pantheon of actors who have successfully given their own take on the Dark Knight. There is a crapton of voice actors who earn their pay in this one and I'm going to no doubt miss some. Michael Cera is an overeager and borderline innocent Dick Grayson/Robin who is desperately searching for a father. Ralph Fiennes is an excellent Alfred Pennyworth who really wants Bruce Wayne to grow the hell up. (Btw if this was live action you have to admit Fiennes is PERFECT casting for Alfred.) And Rosario Dawson impresses as a Barbara Gordon who is becoming the GCPD Commissioner and represents much needed change. And yes, the metaphor for Batman admitting that he needs Joker in the same way one would need a significant other pretty much nails the psychosexual angle of that 80-year-old rivalry on the head completely.

The visuals likewise are beautiful and make you want to grab a ton of LEGO bricks and get to work. So yes, the marketing here works, but it's service to a better story than we deserve or need to be honest. The Lego Batman Movie will probably end up as one of the best children's movies of the year. I don't necessarily agree with a good chunk of the self-important jackasses on the internet saying that it's the best Batman movie since The Dark Knight or Batman 1989 or something, but it's a fine popcorn movie for everybody. And besides, the finest non-live action Batman movie to date is unquestionably The Mask of the Phantasm. But you knew that already.