Bad Boys for Life
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John Cusack and Emile Hirsch lead the cast in the Western drama Never Grow Old. When a gang sets up a bar and brothel in a peaceful frontier town the undertaker starts working overtime, but he soon has a crisis of conscience as he watches the town fall apart. The pacing is pretty slow and there's not a lot of character development, but Cusack and Hirsch do a good job at working with what they have; particularly Cusack, who makes for a really captivating villain. Also, the sets and costumes are exceptionally well-done, giving the film an authentic Old West look and feel. The score too is quite impactful and sets an atmospheric tone. Yet while it's well-crafted, Never Grow Old is a by-the-numbers revenge film that meanders about too much.
How a movie called The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then the Bigfoot could be so dull and boring boggles the mind. The story follows a retired WWII vet who's recruited to track and kill a Bigfoot in the Canadian wilderness that's gone rabid and could infect humanity with a deadly virus if it gets loose. Sam Elliot leads the cast and gives a strong, nuanced performance as a man haunted by his past. But the storytelling is poor; requiring the audience to fill in a lot of blanks. And the characters aren't developed very well. A slow, meandering film that doesn't live up to its potential, The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then the Bigfoot is incredibly disappointing.
Produced by James Gunn, Brightburn is a frightening supernatural thriller. When 13-year old Brandon Breyer starts to show superhuman abilities his parents reveal that they rescued him from a crashed spacecraft as a baby. Elizabeth Banks and David Denman lead the cast and give solid performances, and child actor Jackson A. Dunn plays the balance between malicious and afraid and confused quite well. Additionally, writers Brian and Mark Gunn do an impressive job at using superhero tropes and at putting a horror spin on them. And director David Yarovesky heightens the tension and suspense by setting a dark and foreboding tone, which is also reflected in the score. Presenting a creative new vision of the superhero tale, Brightburn is a chilling horror film.
In the pantheon of bad ideas remaking Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (which itself was a remake) ranks high, yet Rebel Wilson and Ann Hathaway attempt it in The Hustle. When a small time con woman gets taken by a pro she makes a deal to team up and learn her tricks, but they soon end up in a contest to see who's the better con artist. Half of the problem is Hathaway, who doesn't have any charm or likability. The other half is that the jokes just aren't that funny; relaying on a lot of sexual and gross out humor (which is Wilson's shtick). Still, the sight gags and pratfalls work pretty well and deliver some good laughs. Coming off as a bad imitation, The Hustle isn't fooling anyone.
An incredibly fun and crazy adventure, Big Trouble delivers a lot of laughs. The film follows several characters including a single father, a mobsters, two high-school kids, a pair of petty criminals, a couple of hitmen, and an FBI team that cross paths in Miami during the hunt for a stolen nuclear bomb. Featuring Tim Allen, Rene Russo, Dennis Farina, Zooey Deschanel, Sofia Vergara, and Jason Lee, the film has an impressive all-star cast. And director Barry Sonnenfeld does a good job at setting a whimsical, lighthearted tone that complements the farcical style of humor especially well. Extraordinarily entertaining, Big Trouble is an outrageous screwball comedy.