More old movie reviews 2016

 

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Tina Fey is a war correspondent in Afghanistan in the new movie, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, which is abbreviated WTF, if you don’t see that joke.  This is a pseudo-comedy/dramedy that hits more than it doesn’t and provides perhaps the best movie performance of Tina Fey’s career.

Fey plays Kim Baker, inspired by the book The Taliban Shuffle: Strange Days in Afghanistan and Pakistan which was written by Kim Barker.  Kim is a journalist who decides to “blow up” her life and accept a position covering the war effort in Afghanistan in the early 2000s.  The film is really more about the life of the reporter overseas than it is about life on the front lines of a war, although there are some parts of the film focused on that.

Tina Fey does a great job here, setting a perfect tone for this journalist in everything that she did.  Martin Freeman also appears as Ian, a freelance photographer who seemed to be more interested in his drinking and talking women into bed than his photography.  The relationship that develops between Kim and Ian is one of the highlights of the film, particularly the second half of the film.  I actually would have liked more of Martin Freeman since he is extremely engaging here.

There are other funny performances in WTF including Billy Bob Thornton as Marine General Hollanek, Alfred Molina as the horny Afghan Attorney General Ali Massoud Sadiq, and Margot Robbie as Tonya Vanderpoel.

The problem I had with the movie was there really wasn’t any through narrative to the film.  It felt like a series of scenes that happened to the same characters strung together in a particular setting.  This trait gave the feeling of a lack of cohesion to the film that would plague it.  Even if the scenes they were showing were good scenes, they felt out of place because of the lack of a strong narrative.  They tried to add some story near the end, but it was too late by then.

Still, the film looked good, made me feel like I was in Afghanistan, featured some good to great performances and had some good laughs to it.  Add to that the enjoyable relationship between Fey and Freeman, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot was worth the time to see.

3.6 stars

 

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I didn’t think that there would be any movie this year that would compete with the awfulness that was 50 Shades of Black for worst movie of 2016.

And then I saw The Brothers Grimsby.

This was atrocious.

Separated as children, brothers Nobby (Sasha Baron Cohen) and Sebastian (Mark Strong) reunite at an inconvenient time- while secret agent Sebastian was preparing to prevent an assassination attempt.  Nobby’s clumsy arrival leads to Sebastian accidentally shooting someone else and making his employers think he went rogue.  This leads to a chase across the planet to try to stop the plot without getting murdered by his own people.

There is so much stupidity here, I cannot even believe it.  I hated almost everything about it.

The one positive thing I will say is that the flashbacks to the two brothers as boys (played by Lewis Johnson and Gabriel Chay Palmer) were surprisingly tender.  Had there been more about this, maybe this wouldn’t be as much of a steaming pile of shit that it is.

This film spent the rest of the time making fun of people with AIDS, people with leukemia, pedophilia, and drunken, low-life scum.

This is the only time in the history of film that elephant semen is used as the deus ex machina.

The Brothers Grimsby was nothing more than crass and obnoxiousness, with every possible sex and drug joke available.  We saw Deadpool be crude, but still be awesome, because it was funny.  The crudeness in The Brothers Grimsby was just not funny.  There may have been a giggle here and there, but the real laughs were absent.  My theater was pretty quiet (though admittedly, there were not very many other patrons in the theater with me.)

I sat through this travesty, despite the fact that I desperately wanted to leave multiple times during the film.  I made it through and I take it as a badge of courage.  I hated the trailer that they used to promote this thing.  I thought the movie was obscene, predictable, and unfunny.  It is one of the worst movies of the year, if not… THE worst movie of the year.

0.4 stars

 

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About a month and a half ago, we saw a trailer.  It was a trailer for the new movie 10 Cloverfield Lane, and we had no idea that there was going to be a sequel/reboot for the Cloverfield franchise.  Then, we saw the release date… March 11th, 2016.

Huh?

It floored me that they were able to keep this film under wraps so effectively that the trailer was such a surprise.  Add to that fact that this trailer was one of my favorite trailers I have seen in a long time that it really created such a buzz for this movie.  Would 10 Cloverfield Lane be able to live up to this excellent trailer and huge surprise of its release?

And the movie nailed it.

Now, to be fair, this movie is not really a sequel of the found footage 2008 cult classic Cloverfield.  This is a thriller that is loosely held within the same universe of those events.  It is not obvious.  In fact, without the name “Cloverfield” in the title, you would never be able to connect the two films.

Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) is leaving her boyfriend when her car is sideswiped and rolls off the highway.  When she awakes, she is chained to the wall in a bomb shelter, being held captive by Howard (John Goodman).  In her efforts to escape, she meets another person in the bunker Emmett (John Gallager, Jr.).  Howard tells Michelle that she cannot leave because there was nothing left of the outside world.  But is he being truthful?  Is Howard crazy?  We don’t know.

This film is so tense.  I was on the edge of my seat throughout the entire run time.  It was a small film, not the giant aliens in the street film that the original Cloverfield was.  This was really more of a character drama held inside the bunker with two amazing performances.  John Goodman was magnificent as Howard.  We could never tell exactly what the truth was with this character.  One minute, he seemed bat-shit crazy and the next moment he seemed perfectly reasonable.  This kept the audience on edge and uncertain of exactly what was going on.  Then, Mary Elizabeth Winstead was the perfect person for the role.  She was amazing.  The character of Michelle was so different than you expect in this type of film.  She was so smart.  She never did things that were stupid.  I would be thinking “do this” and then she did it.  It is so nice to have a lead female character in a horror/thriller film that is intelligent and not just dumb.

Dan Trachtenberg makes his feature film debut as a director and he does an amazing job.  The shots of this film create the type of feeling among the viewers that 10 Cloverfield Lane wants.  There was such a small, claustrophobic feel to the film and you sense that throughout, creating the tense tone Trachtenberg wanted to create.  This would be a great job for a long time director let alone a new one.

Now there is a third act twist that I will not spoil, but there have been some people poo-pooing that twist.  To me, it seemed to fit with everything, and there were hints throughout the film, particularly in the dialogue, that fit together nicely.  I found that ending just as intense as the first two acts were.

Though 10 Cloverfield Lane is not really a sequel of the original film, this is a magnificent movie.  I was fully engaged the whole time and wanted to squirm in my seat with everything that was happening.  It shocked me several times and I truly loved it.

4.6 stars

 

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The new film in the Divergent series came out. I went and saw it.

*shrugs*

Allegiant seems to fall into the same category as most of the young adult novel adaptations have fallen recently.  It is blah.  Not the worst movie you would ever see, but hardly memorable or truly engaging.

We pick up our story in the city of Chicago with Tris (Shailene Woodley) and Four (Theo James) watching the survivors becoming angrier and more mob like, including executions of the men involved with Jeanine.  However, Tris and Four were more interested in seeing what was beyond the wall, despite the objections of Evelyn (Naomi Watts).  Tris and Four led a their group on an attempt to escape from the enclosure.

This felt very much like the recent Scorch Trials film from the Maze Runner series, and therein lies the biggest issue with these films.  There are so many of these YA adaptations and they all feel the same.  There are so few that have originality that you could easily predict what was going to happen as Allegiant progressed.  There is no surprise.

And yet, there were plenty of moments that really did not make sense.

The performances were fine.  No one really stunk up the joint.  Jeff Daniels as David was a toned down version of his role in The Martian or Looper.  Ansel Elgort and Miles Teller are passable here.  Teller seems to enjoy playing the douche character.  There just does not seem to be much for any of them to do.  Certainly not enough for the potential quality of this cast.

There are a few decent sci-fi set pieces, the scaling of the wall in particular was a pretty cool visual, but none of that excuses the repetitive nature of the story.  This was The Giver. It was Maze Runner.  It was even Hunger Games like.  There was nothing new.

And it is not over.  There is clearly the set up for furthering the story, despite there not being another book for source material.  Perhaps that is a good thing.  I know of people who think the Divergent series of novels are really great.  This movie series has been anything but.  It appears to be simply a money grab from a series that has nothing new to say.  And surely, the money will come in.

Still, it is not the worst film of the year by far.  It has moments of decent sci-fi elements and, despite the rampant predictability, this is a film that might be a good watch on some rainy day if you come across it on cable.

2.3 stars

 

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One of the stars of The Big Bang Theory, Melissa Rauch, wrote and starred in a new film called The Bronze and the character she played is as far away from Bernadette as you could get.

Hope Ann Greggory was a young female gymnast at the 2004 Olympics who was one of the favorites to win gold, but an freak injury put those hopes away.  However, Hope insisted on pushing on to do her routine on the uneven bars and, above all odds, is able to complete it, placing third and earning a bronze medal.

She came back to her hometown as an Olympic hero, loved by the nation, and she began taking advantage of the fame.  A decade later, she is still taking advantage of her local fame, stealing from her father, and not doing anything.  She was remarkably foul-mouthed and unlikable.

When her former coach commits suicide, Hope receives a letter from her saying that, if she helps coach a new gymnast Maggie (Haley Lu Richardson), she would receive $500,000.

Hope is a thoroughly unlikable character and this is one of the biggest problems with the film.  She is very tough to root for.  She took advantage of her medal win and was criminally rude to her father (Gary Cole).  She initially started coaching Maggie in order to keep her from succeeding and possibly taking her place as hometown hero.  She was really a rotten person.

Melissa Rauch was decent in the film and Gary Cole as her father was not too bad either.

The Bronze is not as funny as it wanted to be.  There was a lot of raunchy jokes and there was a sex scene that was probably the best part of the film.  Most of the jokes did not hit well.

The Bronze was also fairly predictable.  It’s not hard to figure out what was going to happen.  So without to many laughs and a story that was step by step, The Bronze was not a huge success.  There were some moments and I do like Melissa Rauch playing against type, and I have seen way worse films this year, but The Bronze is anything but a movie that I would recommend to anyone.

2.6 stars

 

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The longer you wait for a sequel, especially a comedy sequel, the more likely it will be that said sequel will be a disappointment.  We have had several examples recently including Anchorman 2, Dumb and Dumber 2 and Zoolander 2.  Comedies, in particular, which typically are hard to create effective sequels of anyway, have a bigger rate of failure.

So one wonders why studios continue to create sequels of long ago comedies.  The latest one is one of the most successful romantic comedies of the last 20 years, 2002’s My Big Fat Greek Wedding.

All of the actors are back to show us what these characters are doing 14 years later.  Unfortunately, the sequel, though not as bad as the three sequels I listed in the opening paragraph, still feels old and tired, filled with aging stereotypes and cliches.

Toula (Nia Vardalos) and Ian (John Corbett) are still married and dealing with the fact that their daughter Paris (Elena Kampouris) is a moody teen, looking to escape from the overbearing Greek family by attending an out of state college.  Meanwhile, Toula’s parents Maria and Gus (Lainie Kazan and Michael Constantine) discover that, fifty years ago,  the priest at their wedding ceremony, never signed their marriage certificate, making them a non-married couple.

These are the two main story lines involved in My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2, but they were not the only ones.  There were too many story lines added to this film, preventing any one to really take off.  There was also the marriage of Toula and Ian, the sexual orientation of Angelo (Joey Fatone), how Toula wanted to be a fixer, Gus’s brother, rude neighbors among others.  Some of these were fine, but most of them were just providing time wasters between the main story and suffered from a lack of development.

The film does have a heart, and has some sweet moments.  There are some cute lines and funny bits, but nothing that really stands out of my memory.  It is about what you would expect.

Another sequel that waited too long.

2.7 stars

 

 

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It has been decades for some people who have been hoping to see two of the greatest heroes on screen together.  Superman and Batman are two of the most well-known, iconic super heroes ever and this is the first opportunity to see them both in a single movie.  Add to this the fact that this film is being used to set up the DC Cinematic Universe, Batman v. Superman had huge expectations.

In the end, Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice just could not reach that height of expectations.  It was okay.  That’s about it.

Bruce Wayne (Ben Afflack) is in Metropolis on the day that Superman (Henry Cavill) is fighting Zod (Michael Shannon) and destroying buildings left and right.  One of those buildings belonged to Bruce Wayne.  This has made Bruce Wayne ready to bring Superman down.

Meanwhile, Superman has found the world divided among the public.  Some believe he is a great hero, but there are also many who think that he is nothing more than an alien who is deadly dangerous.  Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) has decided that he will lead the fight against Superman with a convoluted and confusing plot involving Kryptonite.

Batman v. Superman had some good points to it.  It just is not the level of film that everyone hoped it would be.  Zack Snyder directed BvS and this felt very similar to 300 or the Watchmen.  There are some remarkable visuals to the film.  Most of the action was very exciting and looked very good.  Ben Affleck, despite the vitriol that he received from the Internet from the casting, does a really great job as Bruce Wayne/Batman.  I liked Henry Cavill in this film more than I did in Man of Steel.  Amy Adams is solid as Lois Lane and Jeremy Irons as Alfred was fantastic and should have been used more.

I really enjoyed the beginning of the film (not necessarily the Bruce Wayne parents’ murder that we have seen so many times before.)  The scenes of Bruce Wayne running into the destruction caused by Superman/Zod were awesome and it really helped make us understand why Batman was targeting Superman.

However, there were some real problems as well.  One of those is that some of the things that happen did not make much sense.  The plot holes were gaping.  With the exception of Bruce Wayne, the motivations of all of the other characters involved were muddy and uncertain.  This is the main reason why they spent so much time with Bruce Wayne in the beginning of the film.  They wanted his motivation to be clear.  His was.  That was it, though.

I also did not enjoy the one Batman v. Superman fight very much.  Early in the film, there were a couple of encounters between Batman and Superman (one was actually between Bruce Wayne and Clark Kent) and because they did not interact, I did not find their fight scene near the end to be as effective as it should have been.  It also did not help that I thought the step up for the fight was just stupid.

I disliked Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor.  He was absolutely the wrong actor to cast in this role.  Now, I don’t think he was terrible in the movie. I actually thought he did a decent job, but he was not Lex Luthor.  Maybe he could have been the Toyman or the Riddler and been just fine, but as Superman’s most iconic enemy, Eisenberg just was miscast.

Then…Doomsday.  I thought the fight scene with Doomsday at the end was pretty good, but this had been so spoiled already because of the trailers that it lost all of its power.  There was a moment when Luthor said to Lois that he had created this creature and it would be Superman’s Doomsday and that line would have created a huge stir in the crowd, a moment of shock and disbelief…had we not already known that it was coming.  This is not the film’s fault, but the marketing department that made that decision to reveal Doomsday in the trailers should lose their jobs because they minimized what should have been a kick ass moment.

Oh…and Doomsday did not look very good.

I found it very funny that twice in Batman v. Superman it was stated that these characters were fighting in areas where there were no bystanders.  This clearly allowed Zack Snyder to blow up the entire area without receiving the backlash that he got for the devastation that happened in Man of Steel.  I laughed both times it happened.

And speaking of laughs, there were not too many to be had (Perry White played by Laurence Fishburne got some funny lines).  In fact, the tone of this film was so down and borderline depressing that it could be difficult to watch at times.  Not that I think that everything has to be bouncy fun, but a little more balance would be appreciated.

Next, Wonder Woman.  Gal Gadot has received a lot of doubt directed toward her since she won this role.  I personally did not think that Gadot had enough of a presence in this film to judge how effective she will be in the role.  The few lines she delivered did feel a little wooden, but the sample size was pretty small so it is hard to judge.  What I will say is that she absolutely looks the part and her arrival in the third act is one of the highlights of the film.  The style of Wonder Woman was definitely a plus.  Whether or not Gal Gadot can bring the acting chops required for a standalone film is yet to be decided and Batman v. Superman did nothing to answer that question.

I will say that there were minor introductions of other future Justice League members and these felt like they were lazily shoehorned into the movie because they had to set up the upcoming Justice League movie.  The Cyborg scene (featuring Pappa Pope from Scandal) was especially awful.  It made little sense why Lex had this information or how he got it in the first place.

There was clunky dialogue throughout the film.  There were even some laughable lines.  The writing needed to be so much better.

One of the problems of Batman, the character, was that they decided to make Batman a killer.  Now, some will tell you that Batman has killed before, but this is not something that most people would know.  He is seen as a hero, someone who valued life.  Here in Batman v. Superman, the Caped Crusader did not value life at all.  He killed many people.

Batman v. Superman also had a ton of dream scenes and many of these were confusing or simply put stupid.  I found them as a waste of time.

So, I think there were many things that were done well.  I also think that there were some real garbage involved as well.  I should have left the theater thinking that this was awesome.  I did not.  I was conflicted.  And the people in the theater I saw this in had that same feeling.  There was a palpable feeling of disappointment.  I had a guy behind me who said that it was the worst comic book movie he had seen.  I wouldn’t go that far by any stretch, but there were problems.  There was too many things in the film.  It was too long.  I did not like the reason for the fight between the two heroes.  I struggled to decide what to rate this film.  It might be one of those that I reflect back on and like less.  I do believe that I will head back to the theater some time this weekend to see if second viewing changes my thoughts.  For now it is….

3 stars

 

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The Kung Fu Panda trilogy has given us some really enjoyable movies, and the newest addition is no exception.

Po (Jack Black) is back as the Dragon Warrior, trying to become a teacher of kung fu instead of just a student.  This time, however, his birth father Li (Bryan Cranston) shows up with a story of a secret city of pandas.  Meanwhile, Master Oogway’s (Randall Duk Kim) old friend and eventual enemy Kai (J.K. Simmons) returned from the Spirit Dimension intent on capturing the chi of all kung fu masters.  The prophecy stated that only a master of chi could defeat Kai, and Po sets off with his father to attempt to learn the ways of chi from the isolated pandas.

This movie may have had a major villain and a plot going on, but the real heart of the story was the relationship between Po, his birth dad and his adopted dad, Mr. Ping (James Hong).  Mr. Ping stows away with his son on his trip to the hidden panda city because of a fear of losing Po.  This was very relatable, as the goose suddenly became the odd one out.  Mr. Ping could only watch as Po became closer and closer with his father because they shared so much in common.  They were both pandas.  This emotional core of the story really resonated with me and made Po’s search of discovery a personal one.

The animation is always exceptional in the Kung Fu Panda movies.  I especially love the scenes of flashbacks as they are done in a different animated style, almost an artistic rendering instead of the style they had used.  This was consistent with the other movies and really brings a creative fingerprint to this trilogy.

The voices are also great as, not only are Jack Black, J.K. Simmons and Bryan Cranston great, but so are Dustin Hoffman, Jackie Chan, Angelina Jolie, Seth Rogen, David Cross, Lucy Liu, Kate Hudson, and Wayne Knight.  These characters are very well known by this point, but it never feels like I am tired of them.

There are great scenes of Kung fu fighting, and the early scenes of Po trying to teach the Five were hilarious.  In fact, there were many great comedic moments throughout the entire film, but the story does not sacrifice for laughs.  Each laugh springs from the characters naturally and fits well in the tale being told.

The scenes in the Spirit Dimension were beautiful and remarkably creative, and showed The Dragon Warrior at his butt-kicking best.  Kai was a really strong villain who, because he had taken the chi (souls?) of characters that we cared about, gave us a great reason to root against him. He was also understandable, as his back story revealed why he felt that what he did was right.  He felt betrayed by Oogway.  It was something that everyone could relate to, but maybe we would not have reacted in the same manner.

The King Fu Panda movies have been really great, and the third installment found me connecting with the characters even more.  I found myself surprising moved by the story and with Po’s journey of self-discovery.  The story of the adopted father and the birth father is another thing that many families have to deal with in the real world and serves to bring that extra emotional layer to the movie.  Add to that the great action and the brilliant animation, Kung Fu Panda is a wonderful time at the movies.

4.5 stars

 

 

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The Western genre has had its ups and downs over the years.  At one point, there were plenty of Westerns, but these days they are few and far between.  Jane Got A Gun is the latest.  Jane Got A Gun had to face a series of troubles, from acting changes to behind the scenes failures, in order to find its way to a theater this weekend.  Perhaps it shows why Westerns are not as popular as they once were.

Jane (Natalie Portman) has to try to defend her home and her injured husband (Noah Emmerich) from a gang of outlaws, led by Colin McCann (Ewan McGregor), who were looking to kill him.  She recruited her old lover Dan Frost (Joel Edgerton) to help stop them.

There were several problems with the movie.  The biggest problem was the villain of this movie, Colin McCann was as one-dimensional as I have seen in years.  There was absolutely no substance to this character.  We knew nothing about him.  He was just an evil bad guy.  Without a strong antagonist, the protagonists suffer, and this is a perfect example.  It was a total waste of a talent such as Ewan McGregor who could have played an epic villain if given the proper material.

We had a pretty decent background on Jane and Dan.  The story was told in a disjointed, non-linear manner which worked at times and resulted in awkward storytelling at others.

A second major issue with the film was that it got pretty boring at times, which always is a drawback for a western.  Stretches of time would pass where nothing would happen and the story did not progress.  There was a montage scene where Edgerton and Portman were setting up the area for the upcoming assault by the villains that reminded me of the old A-Team television show.  Some of the things they were doing made little sense, but making sense did not rank high on the plan.

For example, the twist at the end of the film came from so out of nowhere that had there been any good will built up by the film prior to this, it would have sucked the whole thing away.  Seriously, I am not sure who thought this ending was a good idea, but it was a totally unbelievable twist.

Now, there were decent things about Jane Got A Gun as well.  Natalie Portman and Joel Edgerton were good in what they had been given to do, though I would have liked more bad assery from Jane.  The look of the movie was pretty well done.  It had the right tone for most of the movie.  But the problems with the characterization and the plot were just too much to overcome.  Especially in a genre that is not drawing the number of people it did in its heyday.

2.4 stars

 

 

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I have to say, I was pretty disappointed with Hail, Caesar.  I had been looking froward to this since the trailer knocked it out of the park.

The movie itself… well, it was seriously weird.

Of course, I was sitting in the theater with a bad head cold, just trying to keep the snot from running down my face, so I may not have been the most focused on what was happening.  I just kept hoping it would get over so I could go home.  I probably shouldn’t have gone tonight.

Yet, I did.  And, sick or not, there were several problems with the new film from the Coen Brothers. However, there were things that were very fun and entertaining as well.

First and foremost was the awesome song and dance involving Burt Gurney (Channing Tatum).  This high energy number was just a hoot and was so outrageous you couldn’t help but be engaged and entertained.  In fact, much of the “movies within a movie” that Hail, Caesar used as the backdrop for their “story” was more interesting than the story itself.  The choreographed swimming number featuring Scarlett Johannson’s DeeAnn Moran was corny goodness.  The singing cowboy film starring the guitar playing, trick-lasso performing Hobie Doyle ( Alden Ehrenreich) was also fun.

Plus, Capital Pictures movie fixer Eddie Mannix (Josh Brolin) is great moving from one crisis to another in perfect deadpan fashion.  Brolin is wonderful in this role, providing just the right balance among the insanity.

The story, however, is truly disjointed.  A group calling themselves The Future, kidnapped star actor Baird Whitlock (George Clooney), the star of the new big time film Hail, Caesar and demanded a ransom.  Mannix bounced about trying to keep all of the problems from collapsing around him.

A second issue was one of the best actors in the film.  George Clooney just does not work in this role.  Clooney was constantly making strange faces, going way over the top.  He looked to be trying way too hard to show us that this is a comedy.

Then, what happens with Channing Tatum at the end (which I will not spoil) is so bizarre that I could hardly believe it.

Most of the side plots are wrapped up quickly and, even, off screen ( as it is with Scarlett Johannson’s storyline).  And even with the sickness overcoming me, it felt like the film was wrapped up really quickly and shook me.

This is clearly a love letter to the old time movies, and the parts of the different movies being created was easily the best part of Hail, Caesar.  There just wasn’t much more there.  There were good to great performances, especially Channing Tatum and Josh Brolin, including some great music and dancing.  Still, this could have been so much better.

3 stars

 

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I was a huge fan of the book Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter and so I was extremely stoked for the film version of Seth Grahame-Smith’s novel.  How disappointed was I?  That film was terrible.

I have never read the novel, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, also written by Seth Grahame-Smith, and I was at best luke warm on the adaptation, probably as much for the failure of ALVH as anything else.

PPZ was okay.

It was certainly loads better than the Vampire Hunter film.

According to the film, the zombie curse began with the Black Death, as the dead began to rise from their graves.  However, England continued on their proper path, with young women training not just on wifely duties, but also on the art of war.  Elizabeth Bennet (Lily James) and her sisters were some of these trained female killers, Elizabeth choosing to have her training in China.  The zombie outbreak was starting to pick up steam once again, bringing a renewal of struggles with the undead.

This brought Elizabeth into the orbit of two men who would become suitors for her hand: Mr. Darcy (Sam Riley), who she took an immediate dislike of because of his brutish manners, and George Wickham (Jack Huston), who has an ulterior motive.

This love triangle dominates much of the movie, as Elizabeth is trying to decide what she feels and what is happening around her.

There are subplots with Elizabeth’s sisters, especially Jane (Bella Heathcote), but to be honest, none of her sisters were anything more but fodder.  Only Jane had any screen time, and that was only because of her own relationship with Mr. Bingley (Douglas Booth).  The lack of development of these sisters really made their usage in the film a waste of time.

The story itself was lacking, particularly where the zombies were used.  There was not much sense involved, although I did like the change to the zombie cannon where some of these zombies were literate and could talk, depending on how many human brains they had consumed.  That gave the zombies a little more leeway than they normally have in battles with humans.  We see a zombie set up an elaborate trap and that was interesting.

There was a major problem with the score of the film.  There were more times than not that it was difficult to hear dialogue over the music swelling in the background.  This created even more confusion than needed to be here, and a better job of sound editing could have helped the movie be considerably more entertaining.

Another problem with PPZ was the tone was inconsistent.  At times, it felt like it wanted to be a farcical comedy/satire where other times it felt as if it were deadly serious and there were some horror jump scares thrown in as well.  The humor did not work most of the time and created an issue about knowing exactly what this film wants to be.

Lily James, who starred in Disney’s live action Cinderella, was excellent as Elizabeth and this actress is a star in the making.  She brought enough gravitas to this role that she made me believe that she was a kick-ass trained female.  She was a solid protagonist for PPZ.

The zombies themselves looked pretty decent also, though they may not have been as well used as they could have been.  The effects and the fights were well done, again much better than Abe Lincoln.

In the end, if you are a fan of this type of mash up storytelling, then Pride +Prejudice + Zombies might not be a bad time at the cinema.  If you are a fan of either one of the individual genres, you may come out disappointed.  If you go into the film with lowered expectations, you might have a fun enough time with this to make yourself happy.

2.85 stars

 

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Nicholas Sparks movies are ones that I never review because I never watch them.  They just aren’t my cup of tea so I avoid them almost as much as Adam Sandler movies.

However, this one has a story to it.

Thursday night, I am back from coaching a basketball game and waiting to head to the Quad Cities to see an opening night of Deadpool at 8 PM, but it is getting late and a player has yet to be picked up.  When he finally left, it was 7:20.  I flew down to the Cinemark Theater, perhaps bending a law or two to do it, and arrived at 7:50.  As I walked into the theater, I saw the 8 PM Deadpool screening had been sold out.  That meant I had to wait for the next showing (IMAX actually) at 9:45.

This really sucked because I did not want to sit around waiting for an hour and a half until I could get into Deadpool, so I began looking for a film that I could waste time at until it was time for Deadpool.

Enter…The Choice.

It was perfect, because it had almost started (I missed all the trailers) and it would not matter if I had to leave it early.  (I did, by the way).

Despite the ticket taker’s comment that this was a chick flick (he had suggested The Boy as the film to waste time at), I bought a ticket for Nicholas Spark’s latest film.

It wasn’t horrible. It wasn’t very good either.

I was definitely not invested, as I kept checking the time, waiting for the best opportunity to depart.  The story was much like many other Nicholas Sparks’ films.  Man meets woman.  They fall in love.  Tragedy strikes.  Can love overcome?

Benjamin Walker played Travis, a good old southern boy who plays his music too loud and has snappy banter with Teresa Palmer’s Gabby.  Walker played Travis just like a clean shaven Sawyer from LOST, and I couldn’t help but think about that every time he opened his mouth.  Gabby was attractive and looked good in a swimming suit.

She was also in a relationship with a doctor, played with a lot of stiffness by Tom Welling (Clark Kent from Smallville), but there was absolutely no emotional weight to the affair that she was having with Travis.  It was fluff.  That was the best I could say about the movie.

Tom Wilkinson was fun in a limited role as Travis’s father.

There is every cliche you can expect.  The acting is poor, although I did enjoy Sawyer.  This film exists for no good reason.

And yet, it was not as offensive as I thought it could be and it did serve its purpose… passing time and getting me to Deadpool, so, for that alone, I am appreciative.

But don’t go see this film.

2 stars

 

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