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Rating History

Independence Day: Resurgence
23 hours ago via Rotten Tomatoes
½

Retro-sequel seems to have become all the rage lately. Star Wars is back with a vengeance, Indiana Jones is on his way, Alien, Blade Runner, Jurassic World and others have taken franchise stagnant for a decade or more and revived them not with a reboot, but a sequel that continues the long dead story. A film that could have delivered a sequel decades before now is Independence Day, a film that wasn't the greatest but it did deliver some summer popcorn entertainment. Why we didn't get a sequel until now is a mystery to me.


The plot isn't going to take much to describe.Honestly, if you've seen the first film then you have seen this one. I was thinking about doing a copy and paste from my view of the first film, but why go to the effort. Plus, there seems to be to much copy and paste going on with this one anyway. Aliens, angry that we beat them in the first film, show up. Throw in a McGuffin so that we have a way to set up another sequel and you're done. Like an assembly line.


The film is pure paint by numbers and that philosophy can work when you add something interesting or at least make an effort. This film doesn't do that. The beats are the same as the first film and what is new happens to be well worn cliches from films such as Pearl Harbor. Bill Pullman returns as the ex-President, but actually takes up the crazed Randy Quaid character. Jeff Goldblum also returns, does his thing, and collects his check. Will Smith does not return, opting to appear in Suicide Squad. Not perfect. but better than going backward on the part of Mr. Smith. Throughout the film the cast does its thing, re-making Independence Day.


I guess we're going to get hit with more of these. Reboots are garbage, so let's revitalize. The problem is that a retro-sequel can end up being more pathetic than actually starting over from scratch. The movie blatantly sets up a sequel, but whether or not that will come to fruition is up in the air at this time. It sounds like something different, which this movie should have been if it wanted to recapture an audience. Nods to the original are encouraged, but give the viewer a reason to spends time watching your movie. Oh well. The grand daddy of modern disaster porn has fallen. Let's just pack this one away as a relic of the old days.

X-Men: Apocalypse
1 day ago via Rotten Tomatoes

When X-Men movies first hit the silver screen the world was staggering from the comic book films of the late 1990's (I'm looking at you Batman and Robin and Spawn). The concept of adapting super heroes was just not as viable as it is today. The X-Men series is the odd franchise that has been rebooted, but is still tied to its former self more tightly with timeline swaps creating a convoluted mess that becomes more and more confusing with each additional movie.


X-Men: Apocalypse opens in Egypt where Apocalypse (Oscar Issacs) is being transferred into another body, merging his powers with the powers of his new host. A coup renders him buried hundreds of feet below the ground in perpetual hibernation, waiting for the day that he can be rejuvenated by the sun. Obviously he is released and begins the process of taking control of the world back from humans- he feels that he is their god. He recruits four mutants (the four horsemen), one of them being Magneto (Michael Fassbender) who, after experiencing another tragedy, now feels that humanity is evil and needs to be exterminated. This leads to a confrontation with Professor X (James McAvoy) and his team of X-Men.


Bryan Singer is the mastermind of the X-Men franchise, helming four of the installments. After continuous disaster porn offerings in comic book films it really isn't a surprise that a film with the sub title Apocalypse should also contain massive destruction. It doesn't seem quite as bad as other comic book films, but it's still there and is starting to wear thin on viewers. The film holds itself together, but it does have issues. There are pairings that don't really fire on all cylinders, leaving an awkward feeling in the film when it really wasn't intended. The problem is that these intermingle with moments in the film that really work so when you get going into the movie and become heavily invested the film hits the breaks with awkwardness and pulls the viewer right out of it. This is all secondary when you get to the tacked on scene that is just there so that we can have a gratuitous Hugh Jackman cameo. To sum up that part of the film, it was not needed at all and the film could have been fine with it cut from the final product. Discarding it would have made the film a tighter piece and better in the long run. But it gets you hyped for the next film, right?


X-Men: Apocalypse is probably the weakest of the current X-Men franchise. The film blatantly sets up Logan, but where does this series go from here? Is there a future with this franchise in this form or will another reboot be in order? Time will tell. All in all this is a respectable film if you can get past the issues it contains. A decent super hero film as long as you don't expect too much out of it.

Ghostbusters
Ghostbusters (2016)
7 days ago via Rotten Tomatoes
½

Once again the remake train derails into another franchise with Ghostbusters, the 2016 comedy that seems to be made by people who have never seen the original film. The funny thing is that I now am filled with regret after seeing this overtly controversial film of this summer.


Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon, and Leslie Jones star as the title characters in this film about the paranormal invading New York City and the recently unemployed small business owners that are here to fight this new nuisance. A bell boy named Rowan (Neil Casey) is expanding ghost activity for some reason, coming to a climax with Times Square full of scares. (Times Scare? Slime Square?)


The script is immature at best and bottom feeding at worst. A nice middle finger scene here, a crotch shot there, basic 13 year old humor like that which plays well to kids and the soft headed. The story is like falling from a tree with the plot hitting one branch, then another, then another, and never really landing anywhere to settle except the eventual land fill that this film feels destined for.


I can't really say that the acting is bad. You're only as good as your script and we've already established the mess that road map is. The real issue with the main core of the cast is that there is little chemistry between the quartet. This is probably the biggest fault with Ghostbusters '16 especially compared to the chemistry that is exuded in the original film. Even the sequel felt more on point than this film and it shows. This is reason this film didn't click with viewers, too.


I will admit that I was very pessimistic when it came to discussing this film and it wasn't because of the swapping of the sexes, though that felt like it was marketed as a gimmick. In all honesty, the film didn't look good from trailers and research that I did pre-release. Even if it didn't have the no ghost insignia stamped on its marketing this film would have been mediocre. This one had to stand up to one of the most beloved films of the last 30+ years. It feels rushed and thrown together into something for the mass quantities to consume instead of that special thing that was the original film. I'm not going to blame the cast because it feels like they actually believed in what they were doing- an honest retelling of a story that they grew up with, just like you and me. No, this is a failure on director Paul Feig's part. He delivers a soulless film that is just empty calories to be purged and forgotten in a day or two. An albatross on a decent career.

Dog Eat Dog
Dog Eat Dog (2016)
8 days ago via Rotten Tomatoes

Dog Eat Dog is about a trio of criminals (Nicholas cage, Willem DaFoe, and Christopher Matthew Cook) that are trying to get a big score. Their big score is kidnapping a baby. It goes down the toiler. Messy, so very messy.


This film is an incoherent piece of trash. The plot is all over the place and leaves so much hanging out to no resolution. It's like a building that is midway through its demolition. Hallways lead to oblivion and pieces of junk just sticking here and there with no real purpose anymore. Junior high schoolers could write a better script than this. The stories that children develop when playing with a menagerie of action figures are better than this. I can't really say that the ending is satisfying because there is nothing satisfying in this film. It goes for a cheap shock to introduce the film and really just sits there spinning its wheels for the remainder of the film.


The acting is hammy and over the top. Cage continues to bury his once great career in another garbage film with another garbage performance. He goes overboard ala The Wicker Man and does a terrible Bogart impression. Let this be a lesson to everyone out there to pay yout taxes or you'll have to be in crap like Dog eat Dog. Dafoe isn't as far down the shoot as Cage is career wise, but if he keeps appearing in films like this his legacy will be torched by the easy paychecks films like this must pay. He plays a parody of himself. It's a miserable experience because he doesn't really have anything to work with and an over the edge Dafoe isn't anything new. Been there and done that in much better films. The rest of the acting is pedestrian at best and does nothing to carry the film higher than mediocre.


Finally we get to director Paul Schrader, a darling of cinema thirty years ago gives us a film that can really be summed up as a cliche of 1990's cinema. Most of the hip artistic tricks that he employs in this film were being used by Oliver Stone 20 years ago. Sorry Paul, but movies have grown past that, for better or for worse and in a better film they may have lent to telling the story more, but with Dog Eat Dog it just makes you want to watch Natural Born Killers. Schrader is another casualty in this "film".


Dog Eat Dog really is a cliche. Acting, directing. Everyone does the typical stuff and delivers nothing beyond what they get paid for. To be truthful, the script is not a cliche. If it were this film may have been better. Average, but that would be better than what we have now. This film is written terribly at the expense of trying to be cool. It tries way too hard and falls right on its face. Not very cool. This film will be remembered for being horrible as it buries the three talents associated with it.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
28 days ago via Rotten Tomatoes
½

I went into Rogue One with uneasiness, being a fan of this franchise for as long as I can remember. To split away from the soap opera that is the Skywalkers is an unprecedented move that was obviously going to happen if Disney wanted to actually make money on their $4.5 billion investment in George Lucas' empire. Still, sitting there without that epic Star Wars stinger and crawl was difficult to watch because it wasn't what I was used to- damn it, don't ruin my childhood you corporate fools!


Rogue One is a prequel to the original Star Wars trilogy (Star Wars (A New Hope), The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi) and a sequel to the prequel trilogy that wrapped up 11 years ago (The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones, and Revenge of the Sith). If this doesn't confuse a casual film goer I don't know what will. The film tells the story of the construction of the Death Star and the Rebellion's fight to stop this super weapon designed by the Empire. Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) is the daughter of the designer of the new weapon Gaylen Erso (Mads Mikkelson), who were separated years before when the Empire ran into snags in development. The Rebels feel that Jyn's lineage will guarantee the help they need in their fight against tyranny. Assisted by Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) and the reprogrammed K-2SO (Alan Tudyk) they develop a band that grows as the film goes on as they attempt to find Jyn's father and the secret that may save the galaxy from annihilation in the face of Director Orson Krennic (Ben Mandelsohn).


Director Gareth Edwards has taken the monumental task of trying to develop a Star Wars film that breaks the traditional conventions of the franchise. Rogue One is a film with an expected outcome and is a dark entry into the series and possibly one of the darkest films of the year, though the film doesn't take itself to seriously. There are some breaks for humor in the film, breaking the enormity of the film. This is a way film, depicting space battle as the violent, heartbreaking experience that all wars are, even in a galaxy far, far away. This is the main accomplishment of this film. There is a weight to the battles that goes beyond what we have seen previously.



Even though there are slow points in the film, they tend to be balanced by action sequences or an intriguing throw back. I guess you can call this fan service, and there's a lot of it here, but what do you expect from a film that is set directly before one of the most beloved films of all time. They make it work in this film and it does. The acting isn't Oscar worthy, but the story overcomes that, thankfully. In a year where acting and story have taken a backseat to sheer spectacle it's refreshing to get something that's intriguing.


Rogue One represents the first step in expanding Star Wars beyond the linear story that it has been for the last forty years. The main trunk of the tree is gaining branches. The film represents the bridge between the original trilogy and the not as beloved prequel trilogy, tying them together in a way that makes them more a acceptable as a whole instead of one being the generic brand of the other. I was pleasantly surprised by Rogue One and hope other spin off films are as entertaining as this one, though I am still skeptical about some of the ideas I've heard about. This is a Star Wars film that gives the audience a real look at the battle between good and evil and the consequences of such a battle. It's an entertaining adventure that runs non stop and holds you until the end.