Robin Hood (2018)

This Thanksgiving break started today and I went to a Tuesday night opening.  With the available choices of Ralph Breaks the Internet and Creed 2, you may ask, “How did you wind up at Robin Hood?”  I was asking myself that question as well.

The real answer is scheduling.  I planned out the five or so movies I need to see this break and it worked best to see the new version of Robin Hood on the Tuesday night.

And I did go into the film with as much of an open mind as I could.  In fact, about ten minutes into the film, I am making cracks in my head, but I stopped and told myself… keep an open mind, Doc.

Unfortunately, that open mind did not make this a good movie.  I really tried.

Robin of Loxley (Taron Egerton) caught the thief Marion (Eve Hewson) stealing his horses and they began a whirlwind love affair.  Until Loxley was drafted into the Crusades and had to go to war.  While at war, he tried to prevent crazy military leader Gisborne (Paul Anderson) from beheading the son of Jamie Foxx.  He failed, and wound up being shot with an arrow.  As we find out, Robin, or Rob as everyone called him for some inane reason, seemed to be immune to being shot with an arrow.  Just pull it out.

Anyway, he was sent home and Jamie Foxx followed him somehow.  He apparently knew everything about Loxley and knew of his relationship with Marion, who had believed that Rob was dead.  She moved on with Will Scarlett (Jamie Dornan) making Rob sad.

By the way, there was a scene where Marion and Rob came face to face for the first time and I swear it was a scene right out of The Princess Bride.  Rob asked her why she did not wait for him and Marion responded that he was dead.  I immediately said to myself, “Death cannot stop true love.  All it can do is delay it for awhile.”  Classic.

Back to the “story,” Jamie Foxx wants to train Rob and make him into Batman and send him against the Sheriff of Nottingham (Ben Mendelsohn) to revenge his son’s death, despite the fact that the man who actually ordered his son’s beheading was also still out there.

So Rob got himself an Arrow from the CW costume and continued his training to become a comic book archer.

This thing was hilarious throughout the film, although it had not intended to be.  Some of the dialogue was just horrendous.  The acting was fine for what they were given, but the story was thin and ridiculous and the dialogue was worse yet.

And then there was Ben Mendelsohn.  Poor Ben was just as bad as I have seen.  He was so over-the-top with EVERY line that I wondered if he was being satirical (Hint-he wasn’t).  His performance was laughable and I found him to be a total waste of a character and an actor who has skills.  Just not sure what he was going for here.

The action was okay at times, but it really did not mean anything.  Rob Hood was shot a second time (or was it third?) in the third act and it barely slowed him down.  As soon as the arrow was pulled form his shoulder, he kept going as if nothing had happened at all.

Then, again in the third act, Egerton’s role as Batman Hood is confirmed as one of the characters suddenly becomes Two-Face.  Literally, it was a near exact way that Harvey Dent became Two-Face in The Dark Knight.

Did I mention that Jamie Foxx’s character’s real name translates into “John?”

Jamie Dornan’s character waffled drastically between positions and was never truly a well crafted and realistic person.  He was just written so poorly that Dornan had no chance even with a strong performance.  He was totally inconsistent with his ideas and what happens to him makes ZERO sense.

But sense was not the main component of this movie.  Instead it took the DNA of several more successful movies, including the Nolan Batman trilogy, Princess Bride, Tolkien stuff, and mixed them together hoping to find something that would make this iteration of Robin Hood a viable franchise.  They had a solid cast, but that cast could not escape the wholesale garbage given them to act.  Ben Mendelsohn chewed the scenery every moment he was on screen, only being topped by F. Murray Abraham, whose Cardinal character was so one-note that you could not believe that the writers couldn’t give him SOMETHING to work with.

Oh, and there were a couple of times where it sounded as Mendelsohn’s Sheriff was Donald Trump.  The film took maybe one or two moments where it felt like they were gearing up to set him up as a symbol for the current US President.  Then, the film completely abandoned the point.  They also tried to get Loxley to infiltrate the inner circle of the Sheriff and the Cardinal, which worked like a charm.  Problem was the film also immediately tossed this plot point aside as well.  There was no pay off for any of that in the story.

The only good thing I can say about Robin Hood is that it is now out of the way and I can, hopefully, prepare to see the considerably better movies during the remainder of break.

0.85 stars

 

Juliet, Naked

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I had seen trailers for this movie earlier this year, but it never found ts way to any theaters in my vicinity.  However, when I saw this on iTunes, I was excited about getting a chance to see it at home.

And it was a good film.

Annie Platt (Rose Byrne) was becoming tired of her boyfriend (Chris O’Dowd) and his obsession with long absent rocker Tucker Crowe (Ethan Hawke). So when an album of Tucker’s music is unearthed and released, Annie takes the chance to write a scathing review of it.

Her boyfriend Duncan was mad at her, but she received a unexpected response.  Tucker Crowe himself read the review and agreed with her.  They then began a correspondence via e-mail and on the phone.

When she discovered that Duncan had cheated on her, their relationship ended.  However, Tucker’s minor heart attack made things even more odd.

This film is a sweet romantic comedy with a group of solid performances and a well written script.  The story itself feels a bit slight, but I did like the relationship between Rose Byrne and Ethan Hawke.  Then, Chris O’Dowd is pretty funny as the obsessed fan who finds his hero in an unexpected place.

The story of Tucker and his gaggle of children that he did not know he had was interesting, but it seemed to be over too quickly.

This is deeper than most rom-coms but, even so, there is not a huge amount of plot.  Most of the film is resolved after the hour and a half.

Rose Byrne is great.  She brings a lot of charm to the movie and the little boy who plays Tucker’s son Jackson (Azhy Robertson) was a nice addition.

Juliet, Naked is a nice film to watch on an evening when you do not have anything else to do.  It might be a bit too slight, but that does not keep it from being a suitable watch.

3.3 stars

Can You Ever Forgive Me?

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Melissa McCarthy has been in a rut for awhile now.  Most of her movie roles over the last several years were similar.  She was playing a “Melissa McCarthy” type.  In the drama St. Vincent with Bill Murray, she showed she had more acting chops than we thought, but we hadn’t seen her take this type of a role since.

Can You Ever Forgive Me is the most unlikely role Melissa McCarthy has ever taken on and she just knocks it out of the park.

Lee Israel (McCarthy) is a down on her luck author, desperately trying to complete her latest book to get some money.  She is behind on her rent.  Her cat is sick.  She is a heavy drinker.  Her agent (Jane Curtin) won’t return her phone calls.     What can she do?

When she finds a letter written by Fanny Bryce, she discovers that there is a market for old personal memorabilia of old time stars.  Lee decides that she would take advantage of this situation and forge these letters by using her own talents as a writer to make the letters very personalized.

I found this movie completely engaging and entertaining.  I thought Melissa McCarthy was astounding as Lee Israel.  The great Richard E. Grant as Jack Hock was amazing casting. The relationship between Lee and Jack was one of depth and realism.  Their friendship was uncertain but different than most you see on the screen.  Two pretty wicked people finding a fellow scammer in each other.

Despite Lee Israel being a unlikable person, you can relate to her and connect with her.  She has problems that all of us have and she is only doing what she can to try and solve them.  She makes bad choices in the long run, but you can understand why.  At first, she was just trying to get the vet to help her cat (By the way, I hated that veterinarian who is turning away this poor sick cat over 80 some dollars.  Screw you, vet).

You can tell that Lee is enjoying her success and the money that is coming with it as the whole act strokes on her ego.  McCarthy does the whole thing brilliantly.

I believe Melissa McCarthy is absolutely an Oscar worthy nominee this year as Best Actress for this role. She should be awarded for taking something different and doing it so well.  It very well could be a career resurgence.

4.85 stars

 

 

 

Instant Family

I saw a review of this movie on Collider Movie Review Talk by William Bibbiani that summed up this movie with one perfect word:  “Lovely.”

That word from Bibs was the ideal word to describe Instant Family, which has a ton of heart, some wonderful moments of emotion and some great family drama.  And it had a bunch of humor that fit right in with the tone of the film.  It was not a “Daddy’s Home” type film that is was marketed as.  It was heartfelt and the humor was real.

Pete (Mark Wahlberg) and Ellie (Rose Byrne) are a married couple that find that they are missing something and they decided to become a foster family with the idea of adopting.  After meeting a fiery teen Lizzy (Isabela Moner), Pete and Ellie are intrigued.  However, Lizzy comes along with a brother Juan (Gustavo Quiroz) and sister Lita (Julianna Gamiz) and the trio is a handful.

I truly expected this to be an entirely different type of movie, but this turned out to be an exceptional film. The acting was spot on.  Mark Wahlberg and Rose Byrne had an easy chemistry and made a real, loving couple.  Young Isabela Moner is a future star.  She was tremendous as the troubled teen.  She shone every minute she was on screen.

Octavia Spencer and Tig Notaro were great together as the social workers assigned to the case of Pete and Ellie and the kids.  They were both entertaining and funny while delivering an important message.

Of course, the message of how important it is to have foster parents is very  vital, but, at times, heavy handed in the movie.  I mean, the film ends with a web address to help provide info for those wishing to adopt children in the system.  It felt too much like an infomercial during the film.  It is not a major issue, but it was noticeable.

In the end, this was a highly entertaining and funny movie with a message worth giving.  There are strong performances and the film thankfully goes in a different path than you expect.

As Bibs said, “It was lovely.”

4.6 stars

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald

Fantastic Beasts Crimes of Grindelwald 27x40 Original Theater D/S Poster Final

I was not a fan of the first Fantastic Beasts film so I was not looking forward to the sequel.  Still, the creative forces behind Harry Potter usually meant that their films were reasonably entertaining so I hoped that I would find the sequel an improvement.

Nope.

I found much of Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald to be boring and confusing.  Honestly, there were many moments where I had no idea what was going on and I even took an extended break to go to the concession stand during the middle of the film.  I did not find it engaging at all.

I will say that the opening scene had some cool visuals and grabbed my attention.  Unfortunately, it failed to maintain such an interest.

After his misadventures in New York in the first film, Newt (Eddie Redmayne) found himself grounded, unable to travel internationally.  Still, when Dumbledore (Jude Law) needs Newt to go to France, he finds a nearby bucket and off they go.

Fortunately, Jacob Kalowski (Dan Fogler) arrived with Newt just in time to go with him.  His love Queenie (Alison Sudol) left him when he expressed a reasonable concern over them getting married.  And then Newt had googly eyes over Tina (Katherine Waterston) without ever really looking at her, and trying to avoid his brother Theseus (Callum Turner).

The plot of this movie is all over the place and is desperately confusing.  Despite there being way too many plot threads, I honestly cannot think of anything.  They clearly did not stand out.

Johnny Depp appears as Grindelwald and he is one of the worst parts of this movie.  Grindelwald is very lacking in any real intrigue or interest.  Outside of Depp’s typical weird hair/eyes, there is little to make this guy sinister or scary or intimidating.

Jud Law makes a good Dumbledore in the few scenes that we see him in.  Law is criminally underused.  There are also a criminal misuse of fantastic beasts, which is ironic in a film named Fantastic Beasts.

There are some decent moments, but the bad truly outweighs the good here.  The finale is downright dumb and lacks any true tension.

It was a long movie with the plot making it f3el even longer.  The best part of the original Fantastic Beasts film was the interactions with the four stars, but this film breaks them apart and keeps them away from one another for much of the film.  Redmayne was fine as Newt.  Jude Law was good as Dumbledore and I would like to see an extended role in future installments.  Depp’s character was lacking any pizazz.

I did not feel connected to any character here and so it did not bother me when things happened to them.  This series could really use some characters like Harry, Ron and Hermione.

2 stars

 

Beautiful Boy

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I wasn’t ready to be depressed tonight.

Beautiful Boy is a teen drug movie starring Timothée Chalamet and Steve Carell and the pair of them are amazing here.  Unfortunately, much of the movie itself was average at best and felt, at times, manipulative.

However, there is absolutely no denying that Timothée Chalamet nailed this.  He was superb as Nic, the young boy who finds himself addicted to drugs and unable to maintain his sobriety. As good as Chalamet was, I think Steve Carell matched with with every scene.  Carell provided such a remarkably subtle performance filled with nuances that made me believe that Carell was truly David, the father of this boy that, no matter what he did, he just could not help.

The rest of the cast is very good as well, with a special shout out to Maura Tierney as David’s second wife and step-mother to Nic.

Still, the story meanders around and, at times, feels more self-important than it needed to feel.  It felt a few times that my emotions were being manipulated and they were not just seriously reacting to the situations happening on the screen.

This is base don a true story, based on both the book written by David Sheff and the book written by Nic Sheff.

Still, the reason to see this is for the masterful performance from these two actors. Timothée Chalamet is amazing considering how young of an actor he is.  Steve Carell has improved with every outing and he matches his young co-star with every glance.  The performances make this much more compelling than it had a right to be.

3.1 stars

Widows

I liked the new Steve McQueen directed film, Widows.  I wanted to love it.  Unfortunately, I just could not get to that level.

Widows was fine, but I went in with high expectations and the film was not what I expected it to be.

When her thief husband (Liam Neeson) and his crew are killed in a robbery gone bad, Veronica (Viola Davis) gets stuck between her grief and loss and the people whose money was taken.  Veronica organized the wives of the crew to help her pull another job to get the money needed.

First of all, Viola Davis is the bomb.  She has a moment at the beginning of this movie after her husband is killed that might have guaranteed her another Oscar nomination.  She let loose a cry of anguish, only to pull it back insider her.  Viola Davis was absolutely tremendous in this movie and deserves all the credit.

In fact, the entire cast was very strong.  I really liked Michelle Rodriguez, Elizabeth Debicki, Colin Farrell, Daniel Kaluuya, Cynthia Erivo, and Brian Tyree Henry.  There were also great cameos from Robert Duvall and Jacki Weaver.  Acting here was top notch.

Fact is that Widows was considerably more of a slow build than I expected or than what this film sold itself as in its promotional material.  It turned out much slower than I thought it was going to be.  That is not necessarily a bad thing, but I got a little bored early as there were so many characters to set up and introduce.

The other problem was there was a twist that I won’t spoil, but I saw coming a mile away.  Anytime that happens, the film takes a hit in my eyes.

The subplot of the political race between Jack Mulligan (Colin Farrell) and Jamal (Brian Tyree Henry) felt forced and out of place here.  I’m still not sure how it really fit into the narrative and seemed too convoluted for what it was worth.  Colin Farrell’s character was all over the place in motivation and was not filled with common sense.

I really liked the tension and the higher stakes than your typical heist movies.  Usually, a heist movie is just a fun time in the robbery, but this was ugly and nasty.  It felt much more realistic than most heist films and I appreciated that fact.  Thing was though that the heist does not appear in the film until the very end of the movie.

I wish the film’s material and script could have brought it as much as Viola Davis did.  She was just awe inspiring with her performance, bringing pain and grief as well as anyone.  The performance elevated the material.

3.5 stars    

The Other Side of the Wind

EYG Hall of Famer Orson Welles’ final film, a film that had been locked away, mostly completed, for 40 years, has finally been released on Netflix.  And it is some kind of movie.

The story of how the film came to be is almost more of a tale than The Other Side of the Wind.  I would certainly recommend that if you plan on watching this movie, you take the time to watch the documentary, They’ll Love Me When I’m Dead as well.  It makes for a very important companion piece to this movie.

The Other Side of the Wind is about a legendary film director who had been self-exiled to Europe for years, returning to Hollywood to get his final passion project filmed.  The narrative of this movie is told through two lenses.  One, the struggles of the director, Jake Hannaford (John Huston), trying to get through the filming with money troubles, struggles with actors and with the Hollywood machine.  Two, the film that he has made is used as a “film within a film” and helps to show the artistry and the imagination of Hannaford.

Now, many people assume that the film is basically an autobiographical tale of Orson Welles himself.  Welles had denied this, but it does seem to be pretty obvious that the character of Jake Hannaford is based strictly on the director.

Apparently there were some scenes of the nearly completed film that were damaged and had to be replaced with photos and voice over.  These scenes feel as if they would have been important for the conclusion of the movie unfortunately.  Of course there is no way around that and what they did with those scenes is the best they were going to be able to accomplish.

There are so many truly visionary shots in this film that you could break down countless numbers of them for analysis.  The scenes fly fast and furiously through the film and you are never allowed to linger on anything for long.  It is certainly an impressive feat of film-making and the creative process.  It changes perspectives, black and white to color, and points of view as easily as you can imagine.

It is slight on story and may be too inside Hollywood to truly reach a wide audience.

John Huston is tremendous here as Jake and the relationship between him and Peter Bogdanovich’s character, Brooks Otterlake, is compelling.

While Welles never put together the ultimate final cut of this movie, those who did paid tribute to his overall vision and presented the world with a film about moviemaking that is chaotic, wild, jubilant and full of the proper amount of satire.  This feels like an appropriate end to a legendary career.

4.2 stars

They’ll Love Me When I’m Dead

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The Netflix original documentary They’ll Love Me When I’m Dead tells the fascinating tale of the efforts of EYG Hall of Famer Orson Welles and his attempts to finish a film called The Other Side of the Wind, a film that has now been released on Netflix as well.

Alan Cummings narrated the documentary, which joins a group of wonderful docs from 2018.

Fast paced and engaging, They’ll Love Me When I’m Dead uses archived footage of Orson Welles to show us truths about the legendary filmmaker that we have never known and to tell the story of the struggle to make this movie as a way of a comeback.

This documentary is not about Citizen Kane.  Sure, it is mentioned, but it is not what is being investigated here.  Instead, we see Welles’ conflicts with Hollywood and the movie business, especially the money providers, in his desperate attempt to get his movies made.

In fact, because of the money, an almost finished cut of the film The Other Side of the Wind wound up locked away in a vault for decades…even after the death of Welles.

Directed by Morgan Neville, this documentary really made me want to watch The Other Side of the Wind on Netflix myself, which is what a good doc about a movie should do.  The Other Side of the Wind will be my next watch soon.

3.7 stars

The Girl in the Spider’s Web

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Claire Foy is the next actress to take up the role of Lisbeth Salander, the woman who arrived first in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.  This is the next film featuring the character.  Unfortunately, there seemed to be a lack of what made Lisbeth such an original character in her past offerings.  Here, in The Girl in the Spider’s Web, she is basically just another action hero.

We join Lisbeth as she is in pursuit of a MacGuffin that gives the possessor the ability to control the nuclear weapons of the world.  The man who invented the technology (Stephen Merchant) is being chased, and his son August (Christopher Convery) knows how to access the info as well.

Lisbeth is in a race against her sister (Sylvia Hoeks) in a twist that is revealed in the trailers, but should have been held back.

There are a ton of action beats here, some decent, but others just silly.  The film is really more of a Mission Impossible or a James Bond type of flick. There is less darkness in the movie and Lisbeth is no where near as harsh as she was in the previous movie.  Where as the other movie showed Lisbeth taking to a serious extreme and being more psychological, this was more action/adventure.  I think this did not work as well for Lisbeth than the previous way.

Claire Foy continues her strong work this year.  I liked her as Lisbeth, or at least, what they let her do as Lisbeth.  I think she would have been a great actress to take this character to another level, but the film does not want to let her do it.

There were many scenes where I was bored during the movie.  It did not grip me the way I had hoped it would.  There were too many scenes where I was rolling my eyes wondering how that was even possible.  The Girl in the Spider’s Web was too predictable and too poorly executed and took a character that could be an original female protagonist and made her into just another action hero.

2.7 stars

Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch

You’re a mean one… well, maybe not that mean.

The Grinch is the newest version of the Dr. Seuss classic children’s book, How the Grinch Who Stole Christmas and this film is an animated film from Illumination, the company that brought us the Minions.

Benedict Cumberbatch voiced the Grinch and he does a nice job. The problem is that the Grinch seemed to be an alright dude early in this film.  He had some bad things happen to him, but I did not think that his heart was three times too small.  He was just lonely.  I would have liked to see the Grinch be more rotten early here.

The film followed the book pretty closely, except of course that there is way more added, because it is a short book, and the original animated version was around 20 minutes long.  This film is 86 minutes which requires a bunch more to the story.  Unfortunately, most of the additions were weaker than the parts from the actual story.  The middle of the film dragged a bit, making it feel longer than the 86 minutes.

The animation is wonderful and the colors are beautiful.  The film looks great.  The voices are really strong as well.  Cameron Seely, Rashida Jones, Kenan Thompson, Angela Lansbury all do good work with voices.  I was not a huge fan of Pharrell Williams as the narrator.  His voice was not as deep or tense as Boris Karloff from the original.

This is a fine version, although fairly unremarkable.  There are some funny bits, but it is stretched out too much.  There is great animation and strong voice work.  The film will probably be loved by a lot of the kids watching it, and it is passable for the adults.  It could be worse.

3 stars

Overlord

J.J. Abrams newly produced horror/thriller is awesome.  It is tense and exciting and about as dramatic as you are going to get.

How could you go wrong by combining a war movie fighting Nazis with a monster/zombie movie?  It is like peanut butter and chocolate.

Overlord had a strong young cast (including Agents of SHIELD’s Fitz, Iain De Caestecker).  There is Jovan Adepo (from Fences and mother!), Wyatt Russell (Everybody Wants Some), and Pilou Asbæk.  There are some good performances here as these actors brought more to these roles than you might expect.

The story takes place as US Forces were preparing to invade France during D-Day in World War II.  What we did not know was that a small team of US soldiers needed to be dropped into a village in France to destroy a tower if the US Forces had any hope of landing on the beaches of Normandy. However, once they found this village, the crew found more than what they thought they would.

Overlord is a violent film with some serious gore involved.  The tension is tight and the anxiety was real.  Jovan Adepo had the feeling of a star, commanding the screen throughout the movie.  He reminded me of a younger John Boyega.  I can see this young man being a real star for years to come.

The effects are very strong and the war scenes are put together very well. There may be some real stretching of the disbelief in a few scenes.

This is a fun film with a great atmosphere.  You are engrossed with the heroes, who are surprisingly three dimensional, and are in fear of the villains.  The film is a B-level movie, but that does not make it a bad thing.  It is a lot of fun.

4 stars

Nobody’s Fool

Nobody's Fool

Tiffany Haddish can be really over-the-top, but she can also be very funny.  It is usually graphic or lewd in nature, but that can be funny.

In Nobody’s Fool, she was funny about a third of the time.

The rest of the film is a giant mess.

Tanya (Tiffany Haddish) has just been released from jail and she is staying with her sister Danica (Tika Sumpter).  Danica has a relationship with a man online whom she had never met, but they seemed to be soulmates.  Tanya believes that her sister is being catfished and goes about trying to prove this.

Now, that is what the trailers make you think this movie is about, but it really is not.  First of all, Tiffany Haddish is not the lead character.  She is at best a supporting character.  The film is about Danica and her relationships.  After the whole catfish this ended (early on), she had a relationship with Frank (Omari Harwick) and that relationship was rocky.

Not because of Frank but because Danica was a rotten person.  The film tried to make her out the protagonist, but she was simple a horrible person whom I did not want to cheer for even a little bit.  She was rude and mean spirited.  She caused people pain everywhere she went.

Why should I want poor Frank to end up with Danica when she treated him like something she scraped off her shoes?  She was stuck up and mean.  I would have totally kicked her to the curb if I were Frank.

This is a Tyler Perry movie and none of these people feel like real people.  They feel like poorly written characters in a movie script.  They do things that reasonably intelligent people simply would not do.

The exception here is Whoopi Goldberg who plays Danica and Tanya’s mother and she steals the movie every time she makes an appearance.  She is absolutely the best part of Nobody’s Fool and I wanted more of Whoopi.

This is just a mess of a film that does not know what the narrative is meant to be.  These characters are dumb and our protagonist is as unlikable as you can be.

1.5 stars

 

The Nutcracker and the Four Realms

The Nutcracker and the Four Realms

Boring.

Boring.

I did not enjoy this movie at all.

Honestly, as soon as it started up, I thought to myself that it was totally CGI and that it looked more like a cartoon than a real place.  Even the real world part was all CGI and I am not sure that was needed.

The movie features a young girl Clara (Mackenzie Foy) whose mother has dies and Clara finds her way into a strange and magical land that her mother was the Queen of ( I guess) and has to help save it from within.

This magical land is not Narnia.  It is not Wonderland.  It is not Oz.  It is a land of four realms and there are problems.

Yawn.

The Nutcracker (Jayden Fowora-Knight) is the last Nutcracker around, but he goes by Captain.  His name is Phillip. He reminds me physically of John Boyega in Star Wars without the charisma.

Helen Mirren is here too.  I usually love her, but she seems as if she is going through the motion as the mysterious Mother Ginger.

There is so much of nothing going on here and I was so bored.  Every once in a while I noticed some recognizable music that told me this was the Nutcracker, but those moments were few and far between.

I just did not like this film and the tons of children in the theater I was in did not help the movie going experience.

1.3 stars

Bohemian Rhapsody

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There were times in this movie where I had goosebumps.

Some may say that the biopic about the rock band Queen, led by one of the greatest front men in the history of rock music, Freddie Mercury, was too simple and basic of a story.  And the performance required of an actor to bring back to life Freddie Mercury was a task extremely challenging.  Fortunately, that job fell into the talented hands of Mr. Robot’s Rami Malek, who proceeded to unfurl a performance for the ages that combined perfectly with the magnificent music of Queen into a cinematic experience unlike most others.

I am uncertain if Malek performed the songs or if they were lip synced, but they were perfectly constructed into the narrative and brought what could have been a typical and unremarkable biopic into a marvelous musical engagement.

The film begins and ends at the Queen performance at Live Aid, the worldwide concert to raise money for starving people in Africa.  The concert scenes in Bohemian Rhapsody were wonderful and stirring.  Malek became Freddie Mercury before our eyes and embraced the character like few others could.

Although his performance transcended the film, Malek was not the only strong performance in Bohemian Rhapsody.  Gwilym Lee brought Queen’s guitarist Brian May to the screen and Ben Hardy embodied the drummer Roger Taylor.  Both band members were able to illuminate the complicated relationship with their eccentric lead singer.  The band displayed a wonderful feeling of family, where even when they fought, it was clear that they had each other’s backs.

No scenes exemplified this more than the scene where the band arrived at the offices of EMI record executive Ray Foster (Mike Myers, in a funny and surprisingly ironic performance).  Queen seemed to be completely together, a single mind shown to the world, intent on releasing the six minute Bohemian Rhapsody as their single, despite the objections of Foster.

Other scenes that were the best ones in the film were the scenes of the band and how they came up with the great music that they did. The creation of Bohemian Rhapsody the song is an epic section of the film and highlights the creativity of the musicians involved in Queen.

The relationships within the band were stretched to the limit, as many families are, with the introduction of Paul Prenter (Allen Leech) and the distancing of Freddie from his family by way of drugs, alcohol and sexual experimentation.  Leech must have done a marvelous job, because I hated that man, who threatened to tear the band apart by placing himself square in the middle between the band and Freddie.  The resolution of that situation in the movie was tremendously satisfying.

Another relationship that was beautifully rendered was the one between Freddie and the love of his life, Mary, his ex-wife who is truly his soulmate.  Mary knew Freddie was gay before Freddie knew it, and yet she did not blame him for his confusion.  The relationship was so powerful that it survived through the trials that Freddie heaped upon it.

While Bohemian Rhapsody, the movie, is not as experimental as the band Queen was with their music, I did not find that to be a problem.  As a big fan of Queen’s music, it was expertly interwoven in the movie and, along with what should be an eventual Academy Award nominated performance by Rami Malek, elevated what could have been typical biopic fare into something that was killer.  Killer Queen for sure.

I really don’t know why the reviews on this film are so mixed.  I think it is one of the best films of the year.

4.7 stars