John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum
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We have come to the end of an era. The very first X-Men film was released in the year 2000, and since the purchase of 20th Century Fox by Disney, it became official that this franchise as we know it, will end very soon. The core storyline that has served as a loose prequel to the original three X-Men films has come to end, with a thud. Although I wouldn't say I hated this movie, it does present itself as a bit of a disgrace to fans of this franchise as a whole. Almost playing as a low-budget feature film, Dark Phoenix is a film that fails on pretty much everything it promises.
Following the events of a mishap in space that ultimately gives Jean Grey the ability of endless power, she becomes the very thing the X-Men have learned to destroy. How she receives the power is blown over and how it comes to be the climax of the film is also ridiculous and overblown. As Jean's power hasn't been fully explored in previous films, her overpowered self seemed more than a little forced here. Personally, I found myself bored by this movie, simply because these characters didn't feel like they felt in any of the previous movies that preceded it.
I would say, more than anything, Dark Phoenix is a film that feels like it needed extra work in the development of the screenplay. Simon Kinberg adapted this screenplay from the comic books alone, and while I believe he has been a great writer for this franchise in the past, I believe he took on a little more than he could handle. On top of writing the film, he also stepped into the director's chair. I do believe this man to be incredibly talented in certain areas and may possibly become an award-winning director in the future, but this was not the movie to start with. An amateur director with a budget of over 100 million dollars is usually not a good idea and this film proves that notion tenfold.
Where this film does shine (for themes part), is in its performances. These actors/actresses have always been fantastic since their first appearances in the films, X-Men: First Class, X-Men: Days of Future Past, and X-Men: Apocalypse. Although a few of them may have been phoned in for reasons that shouldn't even be mentioned in the review itself, this is a movie that's riddled with talent from beginning to end.
Overall, Dark Phoenix marks the ending to this era of X-Men films, and for that alone, many will look at this instalment as possibly the worst in the franchise. It tries to finish this new story, while also tying loose ends from the past, but honestly fails at accomplishing either. There are a few moments of levity here and honestly aspects of the movie that brought me to tears, but only because I was invested in the previous movies. Dark Phoenix brings nothing new to the table and ultimately feels like an independent superhero movie with a big budget to back it up, but not capitalizing on any of that. More than anything, I'm disappointed.
Independent cinema is as equally reliable as mainstream Hollywood content these days, as smaller, simpler films cam be far better than the ones that large studios are throwing money at. It also impresses me when a known actor/actress takes the director's chair and tries their hand at a smaller film than they're used to. In the case of Olivia Wilde's Booksmart, that small film is one of the best that 2019 has had to offer so far. We're not here to talk about that film though. Seth Green has decided to break onto the scene with his directorial debut in Changeland, and at the very least, I'll be giving this one an honourable mention when the year comes to a close. For all its simplicity, here's why I think Changeland is worth your time.
Following Brandon (Seth Green) as he has been planning a surprise trip for he and his wife, marital issues have him taking this trip alone. Having his friend Dan (Breckin Meyer) take her place, it becomes a bonding film between two friends who haven't seen each other in quite some time. Learning life lessons and just simply letting the trip be an escape from their everyday lives, Changeland isn't much of a film in retrospect, but more of a period of time spent with two characters. That's not a negative in the slightest, because one of my favourite films of all time happens to be Before Sunrise, which is exactly the same type of movie. It's the dialogue that drives films like this and I believe that was a strong point here.
Not only did Seth Green helm the movie as its director, but it was his film from the start, having written the screenplay as well. While I'm not sure how close this core character is to Seth Green in real life, it felt authentic and the lines spoken between characters felt real, for the most part. There are a few lines throughout the film that probably could've been edited out, but I loved listening to the interaction between pretty much any and all characters here. Where I think this film probably feels the weakest is in the assembly of it all.
The music throughout the movie felt less like a scene enhancer and more like an easy way to transition these characters from place to place. There were a few instances where I found myself scratching my head as to why a pop song was beginning to play, but as I said, everything surrounding these technical aspects was great, in my opinion. I usually don't like saying this, as I am an aspiring filmmaker myself, but there are definitely moments when you can tell this is someones first kick at the can in terms of directing a feature film.
In the end, from the great characters to the overall calm nature of Changeland, I found myself loving nearly every second of it. It has a few issues in how it's put together, but this is a harmless story that really sucked me in. If for nothing else, this is the type of movie that interests me in general, so I may be a little biased towards it. I definitely recommend Changeland. It's now streaming on demand and in select theatres.
When it comes to biopics, the majority of them follow a specific formula that will bring the audience from point A to point B in a way that feels very familiar. Most of the time that formula feels tired and makes for a very boring theatrical experience, so I was very excited to see that Rocketman would be taking a slightly different approach. Although it does follow many of the tropes that these biopics surrounding addicted artists follow, it does feel very fresh and presents a fun way to look at a downer story like Rocketman. Here's why it's absolutely worth your time.
Telling you right off the bat that Elton John eventually developed addictions to many different substances, including emotional struggles, the film flashes back to begin with him at a very young age when he first touched the piano. Slowly going through his life until he reaches his breaking point (which is, of course, the climax), Rocketman is a very engaging film, due to the fact that it really is a musical fantasy at times, providing thought-provoking sequences that really dive deep into the meanings of a few of his hit songs. From the way certain things are presented visually to the spin that Taron Edgerton himself put on these classic songs, there was so much to love here.
Speaking of Taron Edgerton, I've always been impressed by his acting chops. Whether playing a likeable crazy man in Eddie the Eagle or being a kick-ass action star in the Kingsman films, his career has been on an upward trajectory. Not in terms of box office returns, but absolutely within his performances. I've seen him improve over the years, but never did I expect to be as amazed by him as I was when watching Rocketman. Not only does he personify Elton John in a perfect way, but also brings a massive depth of drama to the role, solidifying him as one of the best actors out there today. If this movie doesn't get him any nominations by the end of this year, I fear it will be a long time before he delivers a performance this good.
Director Dexter Fletcher was someone I was keeping my eye on after his work on Eddie the Eagle, which also starred Taron Edgerton in the title role. His direction on that film was very inspired and the overall movie was quite enjoyable, so I was hoping for at least another feel-good movie that he would sink his teeth into. Well, this is more than I could have ever asked for. His direction here and how the story is presented in general had me smiling from start to finish. Rocketman stands out from the crowd as being different in all the best ways.
In the end, Rocketman is a fun, emotional, and at times deep ride from start to finish. From the insanely good musical numbers to Edgerton's incredible performance, from the emphatic soundtrack to the grand visuals, everything about this movie felt inspired. This will probably go down as one of the best, if not the best biopic of 2019. Rocketman deserves a large audience and I think those who seek this one out will find a lot to like unless for some reason musicals turn you off. If you're someone who doesn't find any enjoyment whatsoever when watching a musical, then this one may not be for you. For me, I loved watching this one.
I'll be straight right off the bat and state that I haven't seen the endless slew of Godzilla movies that were made in Japan. I've seen the original Gojira film from 1954, the awful American remake in 1998, and the 2014 version, which kicked off this new run of films that Warner Bros. hopes to make into a giant franchise, crossing over with King Kong. With all of that out of the way, I was going into this sequel hoping for some monster action that far exceeded its predecessor. It may be the fact that only briefly knew the names of these others monsters throughout the film, but having not seen the classic franchise, seeing them for the first time here was quite the spectacle. Godzilla: King of the Monsters is by no means perfect, but I believe it's worth seeing for the visuals alone.
Loosely following Dr. Emma Russell (Vera Farmiga) and her daughter Madison (Millie Bobby Brown) as they plan to slowly release each new found monster one by one, they're caught in a bind when things begin to go astray and every one of them is released at once. With the falling out of their family in the past, Madison must decide if her father or mother is truly the one on the right side of things. Aside from that, this movie is all about the spectacle of giant monsters fighting, with a clear set-up that will eventually lead to the film Godzilla vs. Kong next year. If you can invest yourself in the numerous overblown action sequences, then this is the movie for you.
The human characters are throwaways, even though I would like to put an asterisk next to Millie Bobby Brown's name. Although she is given some of the worst dialogue in the movie (and there is a lot of that to go around at times), she is a fantastic young actress that will only continue to strengthen her ability to steal the show as time goes on. The humans throughout the course of Godzilla: King of the Monsters really do feel like plot devices or stereotypical scientists just so that these monsters have a logical reason for being released to fight. For that reason, I found no possible way to fall in love with this movie at all.
That being said, the promotional material for this movie has been promising a lot of action and a lot of action is what is presented here. There are some massive throwdowns and the CGI is quite impressive as well. On top of the action, this is a very well-shot film by cinematographer Lawrence Sher. Yes, the visual effects definitely add to his shot composition, but there are some beautiful images sprinkled throughout this film, making a few moments during the battle scenes feel like a piece of art.
In the end, Godzilla: King of the Monsters put the human characters in the back seat in terms of development, which works out in terms of presenting numerous action scene, but ultimately feels slightly hollow at times because of that. From the very nice score that gave me chills at times, to the visual effects actually impressing me quite a bit, I was able to forgive many of the flaws here. That's not something I usually say, so I'm giving quite a bit of praise to the overall look of the film and the spectacle that goes along with it. Godzilla: King of the Monsters is a good movie with many issues, but I really would recommend it to action/monster movie fans.
Netflix has been on a streak of releasing very solid romantic comedies over the last couple of years. From Set It Up being one of their absolute best, to even enjoyable films like Someone Great or When We First Met, it almost feels like the home for the best romantic comedies is on Netflix these days. That's not a bad thing, because I just don't see many audience members flocking out to movies like this in the theatre anymore. I definitely see a change coming in the next five to ten years in terms of where certain genres will end up. With that said, Always Be My Maybe is Netflix's latest release in this genre and if this one doesn't make you smile, you're probably just not in the right mood to watch.
Sasha and Marcus have been friends since childhood but eventually had a falling out in their teenage years. Slowly falling for each other once they land on their feet in their adult days, hilarity and drama ensue. While the premise itself isn't exactly something that people will be writing home about by the time 2019 comes to a close, this really is a film that puts its characters in the forefront, which made for a highly enjoyable little comedy. I was actually very happy I watched this film because it shed new light on Randall Park.
Personally, I've always seen him popping up as the butt end of a joke in comedies and I never found him all that funny. Surprisingly, give him his own film and suddenly he shines brightly. I thought he did a fantastic job here as Marcus and having written the screenplay with his co-star Ali Wong probably added to the chemistry that leaps off the screen between the two of them. Wong is fantastic here as well, but my biggest complaint with this film is that there are times when I found myself disliking the actions of both characters, which did slightly hurt my enjoyment of the movie as a whole.
Yes, by the time the film ends, everything falls into place nicely, but certain things didn't feel quite earned. From being rude to feeling slightly out of character at times, there are lines of dialogue that felt very off-putting. There were certain scenes that felt like a different film to me. Yes, most movies need low points and yes, arguments between characters are inevitable in a film like this, but some harsh things are said sometimes and are just brushed off later on. For that, I didn't quite love this movie as a whole, but don't let that make it seem like I didn't think it was a great movie nevertheless.
In the end, Always Be My Maybe is a very sweet story that does play with a few cliches along the way and is very predictable by the third act, but with some solid characters, a scene-stealing cameo that is easily the highlight of the movie, and a feel-good premise, held together by a solid score and soundtrack, there were times when I just couldn't stop smiling. If you're looking for an easy feel-good movie to watch, I think this one is worth your time.