Kevin Pantoja's Profile - Rotten Tomatoes

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Rating History

Wind River
Wind River (2017)
1 day ago via Rotten Tomatoes

Strengths: This is a great, engaging mystery. As soon as the body is found, you're left wanting to know more about what happened. It's very well-written, too. There are so many scenes that just work. Watching Jeremy Renner (Cory Lambert) and Elizabeth Olsen (Jane Banner) discuss the death of Cory's daughter was heartbreaking and probably the best scene of the film. The chemistry between the actors works, just like their great small scenes in Age of Ultron and Civil War. I also appreciated how they didn't go the romantic route with them. It would've been an unnecessary addition. When we get to see exactly what happened to the deceased girl, Natalie Hanson (Kelsey Asbille) and Matt Rayburn (Jon Bernthal), it's chilling and hard to watch. The standoff between the police and the drilling workers is another thrilling highlight, as is Cory's arrival to make the save. The way the rapist is dealt with is also very satisfying and perfectly fitting with Cory's character. Also, having the film take place mostly in snow gave it a really cool look and feel. For a near two hour film, it flies by.

Weaknesses: Some of the characters, especially law enforcement, and including Olsen's character, do dumb things. For example, the FBI agent literally stands in harm's way like an idiot to set up the big confrontation near the end. It just felt off. In fact, Olsen's character is kind of weak despite being a federal agent. I can see how some viewers will be put off by the graphic rape scene. It's mentioned multiple times early on and the implication could've been enough during the flashback. Lastly, some of the stuff feels predictable and not as big a mystery as one would hope.

Overall: Another great film in a loaded 2017. Jeremy Renner and Elizabeth Olsen were great together, nailing each scene they got to work on. The mystery unravels quite nicely, though is a bit predictable. Regardless, it's a well-acted, well-directed, well-written movie that will keep you engaged for its entire runtime and give you a mostly satisfying conclusion.

Baby Driver
Baby Driver (2017)
4 days ago via Rotten Tomatoes

Strengths: I cannot stress enough how many things in this movie work. It starts with Edgar Wright, who clearly had every little detail about this film planned to perfection. Each camera shot means something and every song that plays is significant. Baby Driver is masterfully edited. The fact that each gunshot or action moment is choreographed to match the music playing is unbelievable. Giving the protagonist a condition like tinnitus made it so having so much music in the movie makes sense. In fact, the music becomes something of its own character. It's that important. Speaking of characters, they're all great, well written, fleshed out, and well acted. Ansel Elgort (Baby) is spectacular as the lead. He's a quiet force, delivering a ton with a few words and facial expressions in ways that few actors can. Lily James (Debora) was a great love interest. The dialogue when they do speak is very good and the chemistry between she and Ansel was electric. For most of the movie, Jamie Foxx (Bats) plays the main antagonist. He plays the crazy man to the brink without going overboard. Just as his character might start getting tired, he's gone. Jon Hamm (Buddy) takes over as the villain in the end and is incredible. His best performance since Don Draper. He's hell bent on revenge after what happens to Darling (Eiza Gonzalez) and it shows. The final scenes involving him, Baby, and Debora are thrilling and keep you on the edge of your seat. That's all without mentioning the stellar job from Kevin Spacey (Doc), Jon Bernthal (Griff), and Gonzalez herself. There are countless great scenes, from the opening heist to the Mike Myers mask joke and heist to the culmination of it all in an exhilarating final act. I've written a fair amount here and have still barely scratched the surface of everything great about this movie.

Weaknesses: It's hard to find one. If I had to pick, I'd say Baby and Debora fall in love a bit quickly. They only hang out a few times, but quickly talk about love and go to extreme lengths for one another. It can happen, it just seems a bit far-fetched. Still, that's a minor gripe.

Overall: It's not just the best film of 2017, it's the best movie I've seen in years. An incredible soundtrack, fantastic direction, strong acting, thrilling heists, and heart pounding action. Not to mention, it's one of the coolest movies ever made. I love everything about Baby Driver.

Logan Lucky
Logan Lucky (2017)
5 days ago via Rotten Tomatoes

Strengths: Though I'm admittedly not a huge Soderbergh fan, the man gets how to make a compelling heist film. He did with the Ocean's trilogy and again with Logan Lucky. The cast is up to the task and are all fantastic. Channing Tatum (Jimmy Logan) gives one of the best performances of his career, while Adam Driver (Clyde Logan) is right up there with him. Their chemistry together is top notch, with Driver stealing the show. Daniel Craig (Joe Bang) looks to be having the time of his life as the safe-cracking expert convict. Even the people with lesser roles, like Katie Holmes (Bobbie Jo Chapman), Sebastian Stan (Dayton White), and Seth MacFarlane (Max), were all a whole lot of fun. Having the heist go down during a NASCAR race was not only unique and creative, but incredibly fitting of who this band of characters was. The humor was very well done, especially the Game of Thrones joke. The ending was intriguing, as it left you wondering just what Jimmy did with all the money. Did he really go through it all just to give it away? It makes for a very interesting final few minutes.

Weaknesses: Some of the talented actors felt like they weren't given enough to work with, including the ones who performed well. As much as I enjoyed the closing minutes of the film, casting Hilary Swank as FBI Agent Sarah Grayson was a strange choice. She's a good actress, but for a role that is ultimately that small, it's distracting. Also, everything her character does gets completely tacked on in the final ten or so minutes. It would've worked better if we saw a bit of her earlier in the film to get more of a feel for why she was so invested in this. It just feels off to have her thrown in near the end.

Overall: Despite some problems with Hilary Swank's character, this film works very well. The cast all deliver the goods and it's one of the more fun heist movies you'll ever see. The characters are great and unique, while the heist itself is a riot. A great film that would nearly crack my top ten of 2017.

The Monster
The Monster (2016)
7 days ago via Rotten Tomatoes
½

Strengths: The Kathy character is one that needed a great performance to carry this film. Zoe Kazan absolutely delivered that. She gives such a powerful, layered performance that is the best I've ever seen from her. You hate her one moment and feel sympathy in another. The relationship between her and her daughter Lizzy (Ella Ballentine) is the heart of the film and it's captivating. Ballentine also gives a very strong performance, especially near the end of the movie. Kathy is given a tremendous redemption arc to make up for her past transgressions. Bryan Bertino does a great job as a director. He manages to really nail setting up the tension. It builds and builds. Since you know the title, you're just waiting and expecting the monster to appear, and the movie plays into that perfectly. For an independent film with a budget under $3 million, the monster looks surprisingly realistic. Bertino chose the right ways to capture the monster in every single scene.

Weaknesses: A fair amount of the film comes across as predictable. When Roy (Scott Speedman), the tow truck guy, shows up, you can be certain of what will happen to him. Also, the early portions of the movie feel like they move too slowly. It's good at building tension, but the payoff takes a bit too long to really come. It feels longer than an hour and a half film.

Overall: Thanks to an outstanding performance from Zoe Kazan and top notch suspense building from the director, The Monster stands out above other creature movies. It's a well made film with a bitter ending that is memorable. Check it out.

Friday Night Lights
8 days ago via Rotten Tomatoes

Strengths: Like the show that came after it, the film is shot beautifully. Peter Berg just gets how to handle football on a screen. Every game is shot to perfection. It focuses on what it needs to and does so with the breakneck pace and sharp cuts that come with the game of football. The story manages to be inspiring and uplifting, but also heartbreaking at times. It does a pretty good job balancing the large cast of characters and makes you feel for each of them. Nearly every character gets some kind of arc and grows from beginning to end. If we're looking for standout performances, they come from Billy Bob Thornton (Coach Gary Gaines), Garrett Hedlund (Don Billingsley), and Derek Luke (Boobie Miles). Thornton gets to give one of the best sports speeches in film history, while Hedlund has a tough, layered character, and Luke carries an emotional story for a character who goes from unlikable to sympathetic. The final game is fantastically set up, with many ups and downs that tug at your emotions.

Weaknesses: The movie is ripe with clichés. It's as if the filmmakers wanted to take every trope you see in a sports story and cram it into this. From the injured top star causing the resilient backup to take his place to the arrogant star to the player having an abusive father to the championship game involving a major comeback. It also felt like some people were underutilized. For example, Connie Britton (Sharon Gaines) plays the coach's wife and barely gets screen time. As we saw on the FNL show, she's a fantastic actress who could've been a key part of some big scenes if properly used.

Overall: There are a few things that prevent it from being among the very elite in sports movies, but it's damn close. Friday Night Lights is a masterfully shot film that portrays the relationship between a coach and his team very well. There's a lot of emotional punches throughout, making it the kind of roller coaster you want to experience in your sports movie.