Brittany Runs a Marathon
John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum
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Hustlers, based on a true story, is about a group of strippers who suffering financially after the crash of 2008 start drugging and stealing from well-off guys. To be honest, I wouldn't have watched this if it wasn't for the fact that there weren't any films out this weekend that I was particularly jazzed about. Still I try to rationalize the cost of my AMC A-List subscription by seeing at least one movie a week. I was really glad I chose this one.
This is an interesting film. It's a morally gray movie that focuses on the ethical murkiness of the situation of women taking advantage of the type of men who take advantage of them. The movie doesn't try to take a particular stand but just wants you to watch in fascination like a good true crime story. This also sort of has a heist-type feel to it. It's also pretty funny at moments.
The film does a good job of making you like the strippers at the outset before their actions become more complex and shadier. All four leads are great. I particularly liked Fresh off the Boat/Crazy Rich Asians' Constance Wu as the lead in a well-balanced performance. Keke Palmer also has great comedic chops in this.
Director Lorene Scafaria (who directed Looking for a Friend for the End of the World, an interesting film) really has a confident hold on this film. This is one of those movies that does an excellent job of leading the viewer. There are just some really strong edits and other ideas. The lighting, the outfits, the musical selections, etc. are all good.
Overall, the Hustlers is very interesting, very enthralling.
This is a sort-of-sequel to Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island. Fans generally consider it to be the best of all Scooby-Doo movies, including live action, which is probably why the WB cynically decided to make this film to captialize on the popularity of the first one. I really wish they hadn't as nothing much of interest came out of this.
The reason this film doesn't work is because it doesn't have any of the things that made the first film work. SDoZI was different than most other SD fare. It was darker and had a more dramatic story and real monsters. None of the many, many other films ever quite matched this tone. This movie is part of the current SD animated universe which has relied more on humor and sticking to the "there-is-always-a-human-being-behind-it formula." The shear difference in tone feels disrespectful and basically neuters the first one.
Also, these two films really take place in separate animated universes. The characters were adults in the first and teenagers in this one, but this movie unsuccessfully tries to connect the timelines.
Of course the previous paragraph is from a guy with way too much time on his hands being defensively nostalgic over a kid's film. How is this to park your children in front of? To be honest, it's too dry. There are several jokes about a certain subject I can't spoil, that I don't think younger viewers will get. (No, I don't mean anything dirty.) The jokes aren't even that much to get anything out of adults, either. Though there are a few bits about Fred's unhealthy attachment to the mystery mobile that work pretty well.
A monster-in-pursuit segment song in this has a classic 60's feel to it. It doesn't match the feel of this movie at all, and I don't think it'll appeal to today's kids. Sorry to go back to comparing this to the first one, but that was a good example of catchy songs that actually fit the feel of the story.
There are a couple things to the film's credit. The opening credits look nice. They do something plot-wise that has hasn't been tried before in Scooby-Doo and I thought it was a good idea.
Interestingly, this is the first Scooby-Doo film to tie in the events of the last film as the group is still "officially" retired from crime-solving after pressure from the local sheriff. Again, I applaud the creators fro trying something new, but I don't think this subplot ever really paid off.
If your kid is a Scooby-Doo fan, they probably won't mind, and I wouldn't say this is downright bad. But if you have to listen to this as they watch, know that this isn't one of the better ones. Critically speaking, Return to Zombie Island never really justifies its existence.
I liked the first one. Although they were aspects to enjoy here, this wasn't the part two that I wanted.
The film keeps up with the first by having some very good scares and just being visually creative in general. This movie includes a couple of very inspired transition shots near the beginning.
The cast playing the adult members of the Loser's Club all do a good job. I know it's been said to death but SNL & Barry's Bill Hader is the best of them. However, credit should also be given to Insidious' James Ransone. This movie is definitely funnier than it's predecessor and Ransone does a great double act with Hader. They have great chemistry. Of course, Bill Skarsgård still steels the show. His Pennywise continues to be unsettlingly childish and inhuman.
The main problem of this movie is that it relies waaaay too much on flashbacks. A lot of people liked the kid actors in the last film. Given that the adult character portion of the book and the mini-series is generally considered weaker, I'm guessing that the creators got worried about focusing just on the grown ups. So, a good portion of the second act relies on flashbacks to never-before-seen scenes of the kids. I mean there is a lot of this. Except for Hader's RItchie, who never really got a personal journey last time, we're not getting anything new. (Plus, I really didn't need to see anymore of Beverley's creepy father.) The setup for the flashbacks results in way too much of the characters just wandering about without much development. The sequel is way too nostalgic for the first, even the adult segments do too much recycling of previous stuff. I didn't want any of this. When I learned that the adaptation was being split into two movies for each of the age groups, I was prepared and content to watch just the adults, and I didn't get that. There needed to be way more time to focus on the lives of the current characters. (Again the character of Mike Hanlon (Isaiah Mustafa from the Old Spice commercials) doesn't get a lot of screentime.) BIll's wife and Beverly's husband basically have cameos here. Both actually had roles to play in the book. I would have preferred they cut the flashbacks and focused more on those characters.
The movie includes the last one's flaw of going way too-over-the-top with the real world threats. They are fairly cringey. In the past I could rationalize that the human characters are so evil and/or one-dimensional because everyone in Derry is affected by Pennywise's evil. However, here we see someone from outside the town also acting that way. So, now I'm just thinking it's just a lack of subtlety on the creator's case.
There was a point where I was considering giving this a ranking one notch higher, because I did like the good stuff. But in the end, I realized that I remembered the parts that bugged me far more. Be forewarned that this is one of those movies where personal enjoyment will really differ.
I've heard good things about this popular cartoon show about Steven Universe (voiced by Zach Callison), a half-alien boy, and his jewel-themedalien friends, but I haven't had the time to see it. A movie, however, I have time for. For someone jumping in, I was pretty entertained.
This movie does a really good job of setting up the plot and basic characters, the main ones anyway. This film has a robust group of supporting characters from the show, but I didn't feel that they were too much of an issue. I mean, I don't think anyone's opinion of the Popeye movie was really affected by whether or not they knew who Wimpy was.
The STeven Universe movie has a very unique narrative tone, something I've never quite seen before. There are moments where the style of dialoque doesn't quite work for me. (It feels more like the creator's choice than the audience age). But overall, I found this to be a pretty good script. The film like the show from what I understand is really big on acceptance and personal individuality, and it does an excellent job. This is a surprisingly strong character piece for a children's film; the main cast have a lot going on emotionally. The movie's villain Spinel (Sarah Stiles) is well-utilized and developed for a character created specifically for this work without any other setup. She really helps make the movie, and her backstory is movingly tragic.
For a made-for-television budget, this is animated surprisingly well. The whole thing looks so good and colorful with fluid action scenes. I love the opening credits. Again Spinel stands out as she is designed and moves like a '30's cartoon character and fights in a fast, rubbery fashion.
This is also a musical. Like the rest of the elements of film, the songs are also really unique. It helps that all the voice actors have great singing voices.
For a person who doesn't watch SU, I got into this fairly easily and had a surprisingly good time.
The Fallen franchise deviates from the previous installments by taking a page from The Fugitive and having Secret Service member Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) framed for treason and having to go on the run to find who set him up. This is a generally entertaining film, but I found that there was a strangely interesting balance of several good and bad aspects.
This was a lot more tonally balanced than the previous two films. Olympus has Fallen was weirdly cynical for a save-the-hostages film. London has Fallen unsuccessfully tried to involve both moral greyness and jingoism not to mention that there were a couple moments where Banning seemed to take a little TOO much pleasure in punishing the enemy. Here, I could mostly just sit back and enjoy myself without questioning anything.
However, the basic story is CONSPIRACY ACTION MOVIE 101; nothing particularly new. I did like the script's attempts, albeit merely for entertainment reasons, of looking at the war machine and interference vs. non-interference.
Butler's still got it as Banning. Nick Nolte is a fun new addition as Banning's reclusive survivalist, anti-government father. The villains if not outstanding are smart and provide a reasonable threat with some neat tricks up their sleeves.
The action is quite good, especially the opening attack and the final confrontation. Thought the lighting is pretty grey, especially considering the first film, but it suits the tone here. Director Ric Roman Waugh (who helmed The Snitch with The Rock) has a good eye for visuals and settings.
The camera work is distracting. There is way too much shaky cam not to mention a couple misplace quick pans. This even happens when people are just having everyday conversations. Also, there's a car chase with way too many interior shots of inside the cars than the action you actually want to see.
I definitely think this is better than London has Fallen. Though not the greatest action movie ever made, this is a good time-waster.