Philip Price's Profile - Rotten Tomatoes

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Rating History

Kingsman: The Golden Circle
2 hours ago via Rotten Tomatoes

There is a difficulty to pinning down what exactly it is about Matthew Vaughn's work that makes it stand out if not necessarily resonate, but to date it has been difficult to not at least enjoy, on a surface-level, every single film the director has released including the oft forgotten 2007 Neil Gaiman adaptation, Stardust, that is a genuinely great, very funny, and wickedly entertaining fantasy film told by someone who knows how to manage tone. Maybe this is it. Maybe it is the way in which Vaughn is able to deliver on a particular tone above everything else that makes his personality shine through so much more than other for-hire action directors tend to be able to do. It would be easy enough for studios to craft generic comic book adaptations, X-Men sequels, and James Bond spoofs-everyone is making some variation on one of those today-but to bring a unique perspective and distinct personality to such common proceedings is a gift and there is no denying Vaughn has that gift whether you appreciate where he's coming from or not. It is a tough thing, straddling what is to ultimately be an intangible aspect of one's final film, but Vaughn has always done well to imprint his films point of view throughout the film-thus making for the literal actions of the characters in the climactic scenes to feel all the more successful as they have not only accomplished the proper resolution the plot desired, but have simultaneously satisfied their moral compasses. Having listed many of Vaughn's previous projects it isn't difficult to note the guy has had ample opportunity to make sequels, but that he hasn't and that he did decide to take on the follow-up to his surprise 2014 hit says a lot about how much he is invested in this world and in this material. What then would Vaughn do in his first sequel? What is the direction he would choose to go? Those were the thoughts and questions stewing in my brain as the Kingsman logo on the front of the Kingsman tailor shop is revealed once more in the opening moments of Vaughn's latest, but while Kingsman: The Golden Circle is a bigger sequel and dares to explore the extended universe that exists around this independent agency we were introduced to three years ago it isn't nearly as cheeky or outrageous as we've come to expect the Kingsman or for that matter, Vaughn himself, to be. And so, while the film is serviceable and generally a good time it doesn't touch the bonkers and bawdy tone of the original despite being bigger in every sense a sequel can be.

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American Assassin
4 days ago via Rotten Tomatoes

When you're one of those people that goes to the cinema a lot it is movies such as American Assassin that seem to become the most stale and the most generic the fastest. Of course, to audiences that only see a few movies in theaters every year American Assassin will be a perfectly acceptable piece of action pulp. American Assassin is a film that will no doubt fulfill expectations for those that felt intrigued enough by the trailers to go out and buy a ticket, but while American Assassin is acceptable in terms of technical prowess, some interesting performance choices, and a rather straightforward if not clichéd plot it fails to really exceed in any way within the narrow parameters it has given itself to operate and exist within. No doubt hoping to piggy back off the success of last September's secret assassin thriller, The Accountant, American Assassin has neither the intrigue nor the style that picture had, but rather with this adaptation of the Vince Flynn airport novel director Michael Cuesta (the criminally overlooked Kill the Messenger) has settled squarely into middle-of-the-road territory with a story that isn't afraid to go big, with Cuesta (in his first major studio movie) unfortunately deciding it best to stay as safe as possible. This inherent feeling stay as safe as possible is to be understood in many ways for, by making this a competent action/thriller and little more, Cuesta stood more of a chance to please the general public than he did taking risks and appeasing a few critics. With such a consensus comes a solid return and more opportunity and eventually, more power over ones endeavors. Cuesta is playing by the rules in American Assassin. To the movie's credit, it does subvert a handful of expectations within certain scenarios while never being afraid to flaunt its more brutal aspects, but it also never embraces its own genre for the more exciting aspects that such a genre has to offer. Rather, this is a movie that is given ample opportunity by its genre to do some cool things with the story it is telling, but rather than take advantage of them American Assassin seems to consistently waste each and every one of them.

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mother! (2017)
7 days ago via Rotten Tomatoes

mother! is one of those films where it is easy to appreciate the intent without being able to necessarily enjoy it at all. That is to say, while there is much to discuss in the latest from auteur Darren Aronofsky (Requiem for a Dream, The Fountain, Black Swan), there isn't much of it that is enjoyable. That isn't to say every movie-going experience has to be enjoyable as mother! still offers an escape in one form or another, but while Aronofsky is very clearly trying to make a statement here it is difficult to pinpoint what exactly he is trying to say. For further proof as to why mother! is simultaneously admirable and bewildering is the fact it is also one of those films where each scene is a puzzle piece the viewer is supposed to put in place to slowly realize the bigger picture. mother! is deliberately confusing in that it wants you to try and figure out what is going on and what the metaphor is that's at work, but while this coyness may at first seem to be both crafty and a product of Aronofsky's knack for crafting visuals to pair with what are otherwise ephemeral concepts it is by the time the film reaches its third act and things begin to fall into place that mother! is neither surprising nor unsettling enough given this buildup. It is also very easy to see how many people will disagree on this point and either find it wholly fascinating and become enamored with discussing the film or not understand what the writer/director was aiming for and thus dismiss it as a symptom of confusion. While I can't say I fall into either of those extreme categories it is almost more disappointing that I don't as what is most evident after walking out of mother! is that Aronofsky was looking to evoke a reaction from his audience-whether it be fascination or disdain. Rather, mother! is a film that gets points for being something different, for taking on the challenge of making this huge metaphor work for what it is, but that it never transcends the correlation between what is being presented and what they represent so as to bring something new and insightful to the table is disappointing. mother! is a film where nothing seems to quite make sense and everyone around the protagonist seems to know what it going on while the main character and audience surrogate is left in the dark. Because of these kinds of set-ups where the audience is unsure of what is happening and why people are acting the way they are the movie becomes increasingly frustrating to the point the third act really needs to deliver on the purpose of having executed the majority of the film in this fashion, but while mother! could be interpreted as many things one thing it is not, but certainly seems to hope it will be, is groundbreaking.

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It (2017)
14 days ago via Rotten Tomatoes

There is something inherently kind of trashy about horror films. If Oscar bait movies are mansions then horror flicks typically reside in the trailer parks. There is a class system to movies that is even less subjective than the constructs applied to actual society and there is almost no arguing that horror movies are always the ones that get relegated to the, "fun, but not actually good or worthwhile" category while time and time again movies with more grounded subject matter are allowed to be labeled as good without necessarily being exceptional. One could argue that horror would have to duke it out with comedy as to which genre gets the least amount of respect, but to that point one could argue that at least major studios still take more chances on broad comedies than they do mid-budget horror flicks and not to mention that, despite comedy stars largely being reduced to dancing clowns, there is genuine admiration for those who are able to pull off successful comedy as it has been admittedly more difficult to pull off than reliable drama. It's appreciated when horror is approached with clear skill, just look at what James Wan has done for the genre, but no matter how skillfully the job is done there is hardly ever any real merit awarded to what we might call a "scary movie." And so, when a studio or director decide to approach the horror genre with the objective of being more illustrious than usual there is reason to be excited for what the final product might deliver. Add to this the fact the movie this studio and director are setting out to make is a new adaptation of one of the horror maestro himself, Stephen King's, most talked about works and it is almost unavoidable: the anticipation and thus the expectations. This is where it seems society has landed on director Andy Muschietti's (Mama) new take on King's magnum opus of a novel that is IT; there is a want for this kind of horrific escapism. This is not because there isn't enough horror in the real world (no, there's plenty of that these days), but because audiences seek a genuine escape back to a time when things seemed simpler while adding a dose of thrills to that nostalgia kick. This new version of IT has come at an opportune time with the implied legacy being that it will take on the mantle of being one of the most disturbing films in recent memory, finally doing justice to the source material, while hopefully living on as such for years to come. So, how does the actual film line up with everything that has come to be expected of it? Fairly well, considering. By no means is IT a transcendent work of horror fiction, but it provides an ample amount of legitimate scares while at the same time capturing this touching tale of friendship and unbreakable bonds that is so endearing it can't help but to make everything else about the movie that much more unnerving. As with all things, IT will inevitably be grouped into that aforementioned set of hierarchical cinema categories, but I have to imagine Muschietti's film, while not achieving that upper class status it so ambitiously seemed to be chasing, works hard and well enough to escape the lows of thoughtless dismissal earning enough admiration without a solid balance of respect to settle into the most comfortable of middle classes.

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Ingrid Goes West
16 days ago via Rotten Tomatoes

Writer/director Matt Spicer and his feature directorial debut, Ingrid Goes West, nail it. For a long time. For most of the runtime, actually, Spicer and his film nail exactly what he and it are going for. In every detail the script supplies or that drips from Aubrey Plaza's inherently mocking facade into what the actress applies to the titular character Ingrid Goes West is as sharp as it needs to be in order to achieve this kind of sardonic satire it's going for in each of every one of those aforementioned details. That Spicer and co-writer David Branson Smith are able to craft an interesting narrative from the seemingly simple idea of exposing those who live their lives striving to create the appearance of another kind of life on social media is encouraging first and foremost, but that through this they are able to utilize that premise to support and point out all the obvious and sometimes dangerous/creepy aspects most might not consider when posting to Instagram makes the mockery that much funnier due to the fact it's so true. As with many an inspired tales, Ingrid Goes West begins strong by highlighting some of these little truths to what is not necessarily an exaggerated effect, but maybe more frightening is that depictions of Plaza's Ingrid trying to figure out the best phrasing for an Instagram comment are so accurate they need not be exaggerated, but more just held up in front of us in order to realize how trivial and silly it all really seems. Ingrid Goes West understands this semblance of effortless cool is indeed serious business to some though and with that it doesn't so much talk down to the intended audience it desires to simultaneously mock and enlighten, but rather Spicer and Smith's screenplay comes around to the inevitable (yet encouraging) conclusion that to be your own cool is the coolest cool there is. This is exemplified through a particularly hilarious and exceptionally performed character named Dan Pinto (O'Shea Jackson Jr.) who comes into Ingrid's life at a crucial time and provides the kind of real, tangible, human interaction her life and being so badly craves-even if Ingrid herself doesn't realize this for much of the film. That it takes Ingrid so long to understand the simple epiphany the film eventually has would be rather testing did the majority of the movie not land so precisely on how exhausting it can be to keep up these kinds of fronts that feel obvious in their fraudulence, but are so convincing in their execution they may as well explicitly state that one should feel inferior. That Ingrid Goes West ultimately lands on the non-revelation it does gives this hard and fast social commentary an otherwise disappointing last act.

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