Edward Agadjanian's Profile - Rotten Tomatoes

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Rating History

Black Mass
Black Mass (2015)
22 months ago via Rotten Tomatoes
½

Black Mass, Hollywood's newest mafia entry directed by Scott Cooper, follows the true story of Boston's baleful phantom during the 70's and 80's: Whitey Bulger (Johnny Depp). Hearing his name now just chills you to the bone. The film commences with an FBI interrogation with one of Bulger's crewmen, Kevin Weeks (Jesse Plemons), and as the conversation carries on, it slowly builds up to finally saying that name. "I need to know everything you know about the Winter Hill gang...and, specifically, what you know about your former boss...and now fugitive...JAMES WHITEY BULGER." As soon as you hear his name uttered in such a solemn tone-mixed with Weeks' dour countenance-the exact significance behind this legend is impactfully conveyed.

Told through convenient voice-over, we retrace Bulger's beginnings all the way through his rise and, eventually, his downfall. Initially, the film's flaws were drastically more pronounced for me: it was quite unfocused in its direction, telling an overly familiar gangster tale that felt slightly messy and poorly-paced in its execution. Too much screen-time is paid to some of the rather uninteresting elements of this otherwise endlessly fascinating history. What kept me genuinely enthusiastic and engaged though were the incredible performances across the board, the majority of which are unfortunately brief but exceptionally memorable from the likes of Dakota Johnson (as Whitey's wife), Julianne Nicholson, and Peter Sarsgaard in particular. In addition, Joel Edgerton continues to prove his pure thespian prowess; he's just utterly captivating and dedicated in every role, and here, he becomes just as detestable as Matt Damon in The Departed-a foolish yet manipulative weasel. Of course, the other standout is Johnny Depp's terrifying portrayal of Bulger-easily his best showcase in the past five years.

Now, the cast and crew seem to be flip-flopping on their intentions in terms of properly handling this character. Suddenly, they're clarifying that they wanted to humanize Whitey, and that has ultimately become the annoyingly uninspired cliche of modern biopics and cinema, in general. Everyone has to be humanized; the most despicable figures in our world's history have to be humanized because it makes it oh-so-complex. Regardless of what the filmmakers claim, I saw little to no humanity in Bulger's face-his irritated mannerisms and enigmatic contemplations-which was certainly fitting in this case. It makes for a more unique venture in a genre that always tries to create sympathy and relatability out of the criminals-yes, he's soulless; he's morally vacant; and he is just as shallow as you would think. And like most biopics, the film is more so a rushed series of events in this subject's life, followed by the usual verbose "what happened to everyone afterwards?" outro before the cut to credits, rather than actually thematic and narrative cohesion.

Continue the review at: http://moviemuscle.net/black-mass-review/

Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation
23 months ago via Rotten Tomatoes

I keep hearing that the Fast and Furious franchise is this epitome of a series in resurgence. Well, the latest Mission: Impossible entry comes quickly on the heels of Furious 7 and squashes that assertion. Instead of simply bloating its cast and pitting muscle-heads against one another, the Mission: Impossible series chooses to ramp up the sheer velocity of its action and the inventiveness of its setpieces. Rogue Nation reunites us with Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) who's now searching for a secret terrorist organization named "The Syndicate" (accidentally birthed from British intelligence) while his own agency, the IMF, is facing its own problems when the CIA and Senate oversight committee begin questioning its legitimacy. Yes, the convoluted type of plot is back, but that's honestly what keeps this brand of movies refreshing.

Above all, Rogue Nation finds the perfect balance between a spy thriller and a purely volatile action movie. We see plenty of extended sequences where agents from different intelligence agencies share extensive dialogue about government secrets and confidential documents-the colors are worn out and the background is grayish. About ten minutes later, Hunt is suddenly zooming through Moroccan highways on a speed-bike in a wild chase. Sometimes, non-stop action can exhaust me (The Avengers 2 and The Expendables 3 being recent exemplars), but when one creative and memorable action sequence leads into another and then blends with another one, you can't help but excitedly tap your feet along and join the sweet ride. Contrary to the style of most modern action flicks, the destruction is executed so carefully and lucidly here. One segment, in particular, transpires within the beautiful edifice of a Vienna opera house as we see the pieces falling into their respective positions, slowly and tensely piling each detail/obstacle into the fray until everything collides into a delightfully (not exactly literal) explosive result.

For some reason, I still struggle in believing that Tom Cruise actually performs his own stunts, which only seem to continually grow in apparent impossibility. How could he scale up the scary enormity that is the Burj Khalifa or speed-run and jump onto a plane taking off, hanging onto the hatch as the plane rises and rises to frightening heights? What kind of movie star has the balls for such risky ventures? In that case, the action choreography is absolutely spectacular, also managing to masterfully fuse itself with some noteworthy physical comedy. In addition to the sheer energy of these scenes, a terrific cast raises the level of entertainment to an even greater point, especially when you have such hilarious comic relief in Simon Pegg and a new female addition in up-and-coming actress, Rebecca Ferguson. She basically replaces Paula Patton with so much more emotional complexity, heroism, and an incredible skillset that easily rivals Ethan Hunt's with the two oftentimes fighting side-by-side throughout the films' duration. Thankfully, she isn't required to fill that dull romantic interest role; instead, Ilsa has a mysterious part in all this, and a lot of focus is paid to her well-rooted arc and its fair share of twists and turns.

Continue the review at: http://moviemuscle.net/mission-impossible-rogue-nation-review/

Inside Out
Inside Out (2015)
24 months ago via Rotten Tomatoes

Pixar Studios used to be the undeniable king of animation, but that was all before they were acquired by Disney, which-as you know-is acquiring everything and everyone nowadays. During their peak, the unbelievably talented studio told deeply adult tales with the guise of a kids film. Finding Nemo was tragic; The Incredibles was a witty action-comedy about family life and midlife crisis; Wall-E took us to the scary future of humanity and the environment around them; etc. Then, we got Toy Story 3, which I found obnoxiously emotionally manipulative and overly reliant on nostalgia. The movies that came after that-let's not even waste time there.

Anyway, Inside Out promises Pixar's utmost strengths: a vastly creative premise and powerful mature themes. In fact, the movie manages to both explore the inside of a mind every way it can (dreams, trains of thought, figments of one's imagination, and more) while also appeasing the naive kids with a deceptively conventional plot. This time around, our protagonists aren't simply troubled humans but emotions personified in cute cartoon form: there's Joy (Amy Poehler), Sadness (Phyllis Smith), Disgust (Mindy Kaling), Anger (Lewis Black), and Fear (Bill Hader). We see this unlikely team irksomely interact as they fight one another to shape the actual girl, Riley (Kaitlyn Dias), through her wildly emotional journey on the path of adolescence. For example, Fright ensures that Riley's thought process prioritizes caution while Joy always keeps the optimism flowing in her head.

The movie opens up with a happy life being led in Minnesota with her family, celebrating her victories on the hockey team. One day, Riley and her parents are forced to relocate to San Francisco because of a job offer, and everything goes severely downhill from there. The immense frustration and hopelessness that comes with the inherent lack of control over your life as a kid really begins to show. The house is meager and mucky; the kids at the new school are terribly annoying and unfriendly; and your family dinners seem very despondent. More importantly though, it's what's going on inside Riley's mind that truly takes precedence. The film most excels in its incredibly ingenious script that characterizes these emotions so vividly-just how you would imagine the embodiment of Anger talks or the jokes that Sadness would find amusing. There's an abundance of hilarity in experiencing this uncooperative grouping for the first refreshing time. As the story progresses however, the humor grows more scarce, and the real emotional/thematic core of the picture gradually kicks in.

Continue the review at: moviemuscle.net/inside-out-review/

Terminator Genisys
24 months ago via Rotten Tomatoes
½

The Terminator franchise has really been riding down that steep hill with no sign of hope. Unlike most fans, I did really enjoy the third installment (Rise of the Machines), but after that came a totally pointless sequel in 2009's Salvation-a Terminator movie without Arnold Schwarzenegger! It was essentially one uninspired plot point after another, surrounded by an abundance of boring, tired action. Now, we have Terminator: Genisys which-though Arnold has finally returned-still promised little quality from its trailers and other promotional material. Unfortunately, the result is exactly what we expected: a total embarrassing and unnecessary mess. Herein, an utterly convoluted time-travel plot is filled with an endless series of action sequences that are wholly devoid of creativity, originality, and authenticity.

Look, there's no certainty that Terminator 2 would be as great if it were released today, but it featured some of the most exciting and inventive action scenes at its time. By this point though, we've all seen the motorcycle chases, flipped trucks, and Golden Gate Bridge showdowns to find any sense of refreshing energy here. In addition, Emilia Clarke has clearly been miscast as Sarah Connor-a woman who is supposed to be an absolutely believable badass and an unbelievable display of muscle and athleticism (when she was portrayed by Linda Hamilton back in the second film). In this case, Clarke plays the human part very well, shining when the moments need empathy and dramatic character dynamics, but she fails to convincingly exude that crucial level of toughness. She fiercely yells at Kyle Reese to quickly get into a vehicle right as a deadly Terminator is about to reach them. "Now, soldier!" she exclaims with such forced and cringe-worthy delivery. Perhaps, it's her acting in that area, or maybe I just can't imagine her spouting those familiar quotes.

Continue the review at: moviemuscle.net/terminator-genisys-review/