Brittany Runs a Marathon
John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum
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Wonderfully heartwarming, I Am Big Bird: The Caroll Spinney Story captures four decades of Spinney's affection and love for both muppets and children. Though a bit melancholy bordering on sappy, I Am Big Bird demonstrates Spinney's pure artistry, personal integrity, and how a sorrowful childhood can result in a bountifully flourishing adulthood. As an aside, it was lovely to see a married couple so focused on each other's greater good. Overall, a touching, if not maudlin, nostalgic, and enjoyable documentary.
Echelon Conspiracy seems like a made for television movie that was accidentally released to theaters. Greg Marcks must be a Will Smith fan to make a movie that is the average of two Smith flicks: Enemy of the State and I, Robot. Echelon Conspiracy offers nothing new and blandly imitates its successful predecessors. And my goodness, who was in charge of casting? Shane West is too weak of a lead actor and Martin Sheen is too strong of a supporting actor for this film to feel properly balanced; it's like watching a white belt fight a black belt. There was a lot of potential here, but its unrealized and the movie is ultimately disappointing.
Awful. Films that are dark must be substantive, feature outstanding performances, and offer some sense of purpose and realism. Freelances does none of these things. There are no heroes in this film and no characters worthy of audience investment; from the beginning of the movie, we're waiting for the end. Even Robert De Niro cannot redeem this mess of cop cliche and poor film-making. I think we've learned that 50 Cent is two quarters short of solid acting ability. Time to make change...
Recently terminated college professors form a successful business hunting down specters, becoming a locally famous group entitled "Ghostbusters." Ghostbusters is a 1980s comedy that has become an American classic. Nearly every American old enough to remember this film will always respond to the question, "Who ya gonna call?" with "Ghostbusters," regardless of its relevance to the situation at hand. Despite its significance in American culture and film, Ghostbusters is mostly an average '80s comedy. Its weak screenplay and unique style of comedy (a corny blend of Mel Brooks and National Lampoon style comedies) leaves much wanting. There are too many plot holes and inconsistencies that Reitman tries to cover up with goop and ghouls -- that didn't work for me. Nevertheless the comedic genius and powerful personalities of Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd redeem its faults and make the film the classic it has come to be. Not my cup of tea, but I understand why so many loved it.
Enemy of the State tells the story of Attorney Robert Dean, who through a series of unfortunate events, becomes the target of a corrupt National Security Agency operation aimed to maintain political influence. Enemy of the State is a basic but solid action thriller that is carried by the on screen chemistry between Will Smith and Gene Hackman. With the exception of Smith and Hackman, the remaining characters were unimpressive. Regina King and Lisa Bonet are certainly forgettable (if not nerve grating). Jon Voight plays the stereotypical sociopathic spook with an extra dose of cliche. Though it is a bit formulaic, the film's real success is found in its eerily prophetic concern regarding government surveillance and the accountability of those responsible for national security. Released only three years before September 11, 2001, Scott's Enemy of the State captured the heart of a policy debate before it was once again center stage in American news and politics. Overall, an enjoyable movie.
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A lot of things break. There are potholes and plot holes. All the characters overcome ridiculous odds and defy reality by defeating nature through one genius move: crashing into things. All the rules are broken, all the buildings are broken, and all my expectations for an enjoyable film were broken too. Good day, San Andreas. Good day.
By the end, I was burnt. There was a recipe for potential in the screenplay, but it was botched by flavorless execution and a bland conclusion. It's been a few months since I've watched Burnt; looking back, all I can remember is Bradley Cooper swearing, Bradley Cooper melting down, lots of actors saying "Yes Chef," and then more Bradley Cooper swearing. I like Cooper, I really do. And I really wanted to like this movie, I really did. It had its moments, but when everything was said and done, I sent this one back to the kitchen.
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets is the second installment of the endless saga of Harry Potter films. As a book to film fanatic, I am impressed by the film's fidelity to the text. It eliminates some of the happenings of the source material, but wisely and understandably so. This is such a rare feat that in all my film-reviewing thus far, it comes second only to The Godfather in loyalty to the book. However, the source material wasn't very good. I know there are Potter people sneering at me as they read this review, but the book is weak, predictable, and formulaic. Hence, the film is all of those things as well. It is cute though to watch young actors struggle with acting. Something that's not cute: the faces of Rupert Grint.
In this sequel, Wolverine journeys back in time to prevent an apocalyptic war between humans and mutants. I'd say the best of the movies thus far. Solid action, good character development, maintains interest, and includes a fun yet cliche field trip to the 1970s. It does feel a bit like The Matrix with sentinels and all, but X-Men: Days of Future Past maintains its originality. The film is a bit Wolverine-centric, which will annoy those who really enjoy the ensemble cast. All around, an enjoyable addition to the superhero saga.
I just watched this recently (like this past week) and quickly forgot about what happened in the movie. I sat and tried to remember, "What happened in this installment?" And the only thing I could come up with is that Frasier became a mutant. Kelsey Grammer is the most memorable part of the movie. Yeah. It's X-Men. Something went wrong here.
This is what the first X-Men (2000) should have been. Better action, less sermonizing, and well acted. Some moments of corny dialogue and a bit too concentrated on Wolverine, although Hugh Jackman is one the movie's strengths. A disappointing performance from Famke Janssen, whose depiction of Jane seems a bit forced. As far as sequels go, well done, a solid 3.5 stars (SJJ 5/26/16).
I'm not a comic book guy, so I approached X-Men solely as a movie-goer. I'll keep my review brief: good ensemble cast, plot maintains the audience's attention, and the action is decent. The only time I wanted to hit fast forward was through the tolerance sermon that was not so subtly preached throughout the movie. I know that X-Men's origins (pun intended) are found in the Civil Rights Movement, but Bryan Singer was a bit heavy-handed. Good action + bad sermon = average rating (4/27/16).
Quirky. It's all the rave. Aubrey Plaza is quirky. Safety Not Guaranteed is really quirky. It's a quirk-fest. And I think that's why it gets a lot of great reviews. Quirky is in and to be anti-quirky would be quirky. The movie is based on an interesting concept, Plaza manages being good looking and quirky at the same time (a rare feat), and it's an interesting approach to a rom-com, but it's all very...quirky. And for those who love quirky, they'll love this movie. I'm anti-quirky. I'm anti-too long to get to the point quirky. So...that's that.
Yes Man is a pretty dumb movie. There's enough plot holes to drop an elephant through and most of the things Jim Carrey says "yes" to are artificial, unbelievable circumstances. I mean, if anyone said "yes" to everything, it would most likely result in lots of overtime and unwanted family dinners. The whole thing is implausible and nonsensical and at moments, inappropriate. And for all of those reasons, Yes Man is enjoyable. It's a light optimistic comedy that contrasts itself against a film industry that takes its work all too seriously. Check your brain at the door, order take out, and laugh a little. It's a mediocre movie, but it's pretty darn good at mediocrity.
It's hard to watch Tommy Lee Jones and Susan Sarandon's talent go to waste in this slow paced courtroom drama based on John Grisham's novel with the same name. Brad Renfro is barely tolerable as irritatingly obnoxious and loud mouthed Mark Sway, whose Southern drawl, precocious ear piercing, and cliche band t-shirt are almost as annoying as his constant, prepubescent whining, although if Mary-Louise Parker's stereotypical trailer park character raised him, it all makes sense. I'm convinced that this is all the fault of Joel Schumacher; cliche roles and corny acting are detectable in his films, regardless of the talent. The Client feels like a movie made for TNT after WCW's Monday Night Nitro. 4/9/16
I watched The Lost World: Jurassic Park a few months back and I didn't write a review. The movie was so forgettable, I had to go back to watch previews to remind myself of the film's plot. Despite its poor screenplay, its deviance from the source novel, and its unmemorable storyline, The Lost World: Jurassic Park, is still better than its predecessor. It ramps up the action, offers better special effects, and is much more fun.
Stephen Garrett from Time Out said the following in his review of Super Mario Bros: "It will baffle kids, bore adolescents, and depress adults." He's right. It's a great novelty; as a fan of the video game, it was fun to reminisce. Besides nostalgia, there's little here for fans to enjoy.
The Stepford Wives is a fairly awful movie. It greatly deviates from its source novel, which was a dark and frightening commentary on misogyny and suburbia. It replaces darkness for camp and its edge for slapstick, but it even does camp and slapstick poorly. How such a star-studded cast was recruited for The Stepford Wives is beyond me. (4/23/16)
Risen is not high in drama or suspense, but its unique perspective of the resurrection account and its care for historical accuracy is incredibly impressive. It was nice to see a Near Eastern appearing Jesus (who looks like he may actually have looked during his incarnation), Apostles with relatable and realistic personalities, and an imaginative police drama approach to the typically predictable synopsis of the Gospels. Joseph Fiennes offers a subtle yet solid performance and Peter Firth skillfully portrays the nervous stoic Pilate. An intriguing and inspirational investigatory tale that respects the deity of Christ but doesn't Bible thump. Well done.
Avatar is one of the most visually impressive films ever produced. It is conceptually unique, combining science fiction, aliens, religion, environmentalism, and personal transformation successfully in a compelling, dramatic, good guys vs. bad guys adventure. Cameron becomes a bit preachy at points; by the end of the film, the audience fully appreciates the evils of the imperialistic, wealth loving white man who will kill both planet and people for his own enjoyment. It's Dances With Wolves meets Michael Moore meets Saving Private Ryan meets Titanic with a science fiction twist. And you know what? It works.