Thursday, March 23, 2017

Kong Skull Island Review

Finally got to see the new acclaimed old school monster blockbuster movie titled Kong: Skull Island.

SPOILER FREE

Let me start by saying that prior to this film, I thoroughly enjoyed the previous adaptations of King Kong presented on film, particularly Merian C. Cooper's 1933 classic as well as Peter Jackson's 2005 blockbuster remake that still stands as being one of the finest remakes of all time. What made Jackson's movie such a fitting remake of the old classic is not that it did that film justice but that it attempted to retell the same story but do it in its own way while making the story of Kong more epic by adding romance to the equation. This time Ann cares when Kong is killed by the planes rather than kicking and screaming as he carries her up the Empire State Building. This time audiences got genuinely freaked out when giant insects came into play in one of the films most memorable scenes. I wasn't much of a fan of the 1976 Jeff Bridges version of the story where Kong battles the planes ontop of the World Trade Center instead of the Empire State Building although I respected it's interpretation of the story. Going into Kong: Skull Island, I was fully aware that the new Kong is not so much a remake of the past stories but an attempt to reestablish the character in hopes of pairing him up with Godzilla in a future King Kong vs Godzilla movie that will be a fantastic visual feast when it finally comes out. The thing with movies like King Kong or Kong Skull Island, is that they require the audience to shut off their brain for a few hours and just embrace the awesomeness of the story. Having seen Kong: Skull Island, one can safely say that such a choice is ultimately the right decision in order to enjoy this film.

       Kong: Skull Island is an entertaining visual feast of an adventure film that's also helped by strong performances from Samuel L. Jackson, John Goodman, and Tom Hiddleton. These three bring their A game to the film and clearly understand the type of film their involved with and appear to be having fun with it. The film is full of exhilirating eye candy while having a fast-paced story that moves at a brisk pace, bringing the audience into this world for two hours, while ultimately delivering them great popcorn entertainment. The storyline for Kong: Skull Island drifts from the traditional King Kong story, setting the timeline in the 1970s with a team of scientists exploring an uncharted Island off the Pacific coast with them stumbling across the mighty Kong along with other mysterious monsters on Skull Island while trying to escape the primal Eden. Skull Island works best as a B- action movie largely due to the sheer size of its monsters that dominate the film and become the ultimate stars of the flick besides it's appealing cast. Kong is the type of film where the special effects and technology are the true stars of the movie along with the stunning Cinematography coming with it. Anything outside of those two things is a surprise plus such as the addition of Samuel L. Jackson and John Goodman in strong supporting roles, both being effective and a great deal of fun to watch. With a movie like Kong, audiences don't and shouldn't go into the movie expecting logic to run the story as monster movies aren't designed to be full proof with logic dominating the scenarios that occur throughout the films story. If one goes into Kong expecting a great deal of story depth and intelligence then they should reevaluate their expectations for the film and check logic St the door. Skull Island is made with the simple purpose of entertaining it's audience and that it does pretty successfully with few major missteps. The movie movies fast and doesn't leave the audience with much time to take breaks in between the thrills but rather keeps them engaged in the action that's non-stop and brilliant to watch. Skull Island also manages to pay direct homage to the 1933 original classic Kong film by modeling it's climactic fight scene between Kong and another monster in a direct parallel to Kong battling the T-Rexs in the original and ultimately winning the fight. What greatly helps this story is that it's not a direct retelling of the classic Kong origins but rather an effort to reacquaint him with audiences in preparing him for future endeavors and battles. If Skull Island is the starting point for Kong build up to bigger and better things rather than having him killed off like in the previous retelling then Skull Island is off to a strong start despite a rather basic plot.

         As a mindless popcorn monster flick that's fast, funny, explosive, thrilling, and carries with it large yet appealing Beasts than Kong: Skull Island works. The film never tries to be anything more than a kickass monster movie and primarily serves as a relaunching of the famous monster who will unquestionably appear in future installments. The King Kong in this film maintains his menacing and intimidating personality and presence despite the scope of the story feeling smaller than previous Kong adaptations. Unlike the three previously major Hollywood interpretations of the story, Kong doesn't stand ontop of the Empire State Building nor the World Trade Center with a blonde female to claim as his own personal prize. This time the action remains on Skull Island with the characters entering this Lost World and discovering creatures that they never knew existed before while trying to find th Kong's greatest strength as a film lies within the fact that it's filmmakers know what the audience wants and delivers it to them while cutting out the excessive running time of Peter Jackson's movie as well as the romance between an ape and a young girl from New York. Skull Island is a simple monster movie made in the tradition of older monster movies with no other purpose than to entertain it's audience and put Kong back on the big screen, which is where he's always belonged and will continue to appear in future monster flicks and pair ups. Skull Island is the ideal popcorn action flick that audiences should see if they want to see mindless action that doesn't require them to think much and makes them shit their brain off completely. If one sets their expectations to those kinds of standards then Skull Island will work it's magic in regards to entertainment. However if one is expecting emotion and depth then they should revert back to Peter Jackson's version for a more epic version of thebl story as Skull Island gets right to the point in regards to action. Kong is back and is here to stay while never losing the menacing nature that makes him suchba compelling and iconic monster.

                                                        7.5 out of 10

Get Out Review

Finally got to see the critically adored and surprisingly awesome suspense and horror thriller titled Get Out.

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SPOILER FREE

       Let me start by saying that prior to this movies release, I had no knowledge of this movies production nor its premise up until its release. I was mainly drawn to this film not only because of its surprise box office results, but the kind of critical acclaim it received along with its story pitch that sounds like a cross between a modern day version of Guess Who's Coming To Dinner mixed with Deliverance. The movie works best as being a twisted psychological thriller more so than being an actual horror film, which these days requires a great deal of blood and guts to be shown on the big screen. In order for a movie like Get Out to succeed, it needs to have a unique concept that relies on brains and pure talent to pull it off. The premise of the movie centers around an interracially mixed couple visiting the girlfriends Suburban parents in the Southern part of the United States, with the boyfriend soon discovering that something sinister is brewing within the estate, particularly with the girlfriends parents and the grip they have over their African-American servants, along with the fact that many African-Americans in the town have gone missing. Right off the bat, the film has the makings of a slick horror film, with the family of the girlfriend appearing to be highly suspicious and questionable, with the first impression coming off as being nervousness regarding their daughter dating someone out of her own race and their efforts to appease to him. What helps to sell the films ingenious concept, is the acting talent behind the films main stars with Daniel Kaluuya and Allison Williams turning in strong performances as the films mixed couple, who essentially play the horror version of Sidney Poitier and Katherine Houghton's characters from 1967s Guess Whose Coming To Dinner with the end result having a horror twist to it. Kaluuya nails the part of the loving boyfriend named Chris, whose nervous about meeting his girlfriend Rose's all white family at first despite her assurance that her family is the furthest thing from being racists. His ordeal with meeting the family ranges from him attempting to win their approval while trying to befriend the nearest African-American around in the town he can relate to, while slowly discovering that every person of color he comes across is acting strange as if they've been hypnotized with one warning him to "get out". Allison Williams does a terrific job of playing the loving girlfriend, who proudly introduces her boyfriend to her family while not quite noticing the strange things occurring around them at first. Williams characters parents played by The West Wings Bradley Whitford and 40 Year Old Virgins Catherine Keener, do masterful jobs of playing what seems like a warm and welcoming pair of parents on the outside, but secretly harbor creepy intentions deep down on the inside. In terms of supporting cast members, Caleb Landry leaves a creepy yet twisted performance as the girlfriends aggressive brother with Betty Gabriel being effective as the families household yet questionable maid. Perhaps the one supporting cast member whose not only effective but brings the much desired humor to the story to ease the tension of the plot is Daniels characters best friend played brilliantly by Lil Kel Howery, who steals the show in every scene he's in as he slowly puts the pieces of what's happening together and tries to warn his friend about his girlfriend's twisted family. As a psychological thriller and horror flick, Get Out works because of the brains that comes with it's clever concept along with it's social themes mixing with horror, thrills, and comedy to deliver audiences a unique but ultimately fun thrill ride. Get Out is the perfect example of all these ingredients working together such as a talented cast, brilliant writing, skillful directing from Jordan Peele, and a unique concept that blends a situation that's relatable to audiences in regards to having an interracial relationship, and the fear of meeting one's parents and desiring to seek their approval with a horror twist that takes audiences on an intense yet ultimately fun thrill ride. In an era where horror films and psychological thrillers rely more on blood and gore more so than brains to tell it's story, it's nice to see a psychological thriller/horror movie that takes itself seriously to a certain extent while having fun with it's concept.

      Overall, Get Out remains a thriller that is most impressive with it's presentation as well as it's abilities to make it's audiences reflect on the scenario their witnessing in front of them on the big screen. The film beautifully combines issues and themes regarding racism, interracial dating, death of a parent, guilt, fear, and transplantation with clever subplots involving hypnosis and psychiatry being weaved into the story. The message of the film basically says that meeting a girlfriend's parents can be trying under any circumstances, although certain particular circumstances can make the event even more challenging and ultimately lethal. Get out is a unique combination of humor, scares and a scenario that's not only thought-provoking, but has the audience pause after watching it and reflect on the type of race relations that surrounds their daily lives. As a dark comedy/thriller/horror flick, Get Out works because of how it surprises audiences with it's quality along with rising to the occasion with presenting a concept that's unique and commands it's audience to think while being greatly entertained by it. The only major flaw that can be pointed out about the film is the fact that it feels as if it moves too quick at times, giving the impression that the story could've used more time to flesh out its interesting premise that comes with admirable twists, turns, and devastating revelations. Whereas there are few films that come out each year that leave lasting impressions upon their audiences, Get Out is poised to be one of those films that will have audiences praising it while pondering over it's well-blended social themes, that are incorporated into the story. While there is no control over how audiences will interpret the films hidden societal conflicts that blend into the story, the overall experience is bound to stay with them as the film not only figures out how to entertain it's audience, but also manages to engage them in the story that's dark, creepy, sadistic, and ultimately brilliant.
                                                                                                                                            8.5 out of 10
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Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Logan Review

Finally got to see Logan, the third and final chapter in the extremely mediocre and underwhelming Wolverine franchise with the obvious twist being that the third time is quite the charm, as well as a heartbreaking finish to the Logan saga.

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MINOR SPOILERS

       Let me start by saying that going into this film, I've been a fan of the X-Men storyline since I was a child. Growing up I loved the SEGA Genesis X-Men game I played as a kid as well as enjoying the cartoon that aired on FOX. I still have fond memories of going to see the first few X-Men movie with my brother, and have attended every X-Men film in theater since then. I also watched both previous Wolverine movies in theaters prior to this one, despite my overall feelings towards them being unfavorable. It's not that the character of Wolverine isn't a compelling one, he is, it's just the storyline that he had for both previous movies wasn't strong enough. Despite those issues, I always found Hugh Jackman to be perfect for the part of Logan as he shined the most in the direct X-Men films he was in with X2 and Days Of The Future Past being his best moments as the character along with a stellar cameo in X-Men: Apocalypse. Seeing the first trailer for Logan, I was impressed with the emotional depth the filmmakers were taking the new story and gained hope that they could make a finale to the Wolverine storyline, that would not only be satisfying but make up for the lackluster portion of the Logan trilogy as a whole. Having seen Logan now, I can assuredly say that the third film in the popular Wolverine franchise does not disappoint, and is a great finish to Jackman's 17-year reign as the iconic superhero character despite his exit being a heartbreaking one.

Logan as it's own movie, will unquestionably go down as being one of the finest comic book movies ever made as it's raw and powerful with its presentation, while giving Hugh Jackman one more hoorah in the title role. He gives his absolute all here and perhaps his greatest performance of any X-Men film ever. The greatest satisfaction that one gets out of seeing Hugh Jackman in this film, is watching how he's progressed and grew into the role of Wolverine since audiences first witnessed him in Bryan Singers first X-Men movie. With each X-Men and Wolverine film, Jackman feels as if he's grown to become more and more of the character as time went on even to the point of him physically looking like Wolverine. It is an achievement for any actor to don a role like Logan's and spend nearly two decades playing this character and making audiences believe that he is that person. With Logan, Jackman gives audiences a Wolverine, that they are proud to rally behind, support, and ultimately shed a tear for as his journey has come to an end. One truly wishes that there's a chance that Hugh Jackman could receive an Oscar nomination for his terrific yet heartbreaking performance in this movie, but no one should hold their breath as it's still very early in the year and the Oscars generally doesn't take comic book movies seriously unless it's Health Ledger. With Hugh Jackman doing a fantastic job as Wolverine in Logan with the filmmakers allowing him to be brutal by having him in R rated mode (Believe me, he doesn't hold back in this one and is at his most brutal, tolling the Weapon X scene in Apocalypse), Patrick Stewart delivers a stunning performance as an older and more senile Professor X, whose having trouble controlling his mutant powers at his age. Although it's referenced that the real reason behind the X-Mens absence on this film is that Xavier accidentally kills them, one still wishes that the filmmakers filmed a sequence showing such an event as audiences could better understand the love, hate relationship that Wolverine and Professor X possess in the story. Watching the two characters interact as well as the two actors, the audience feels as if they've been on a 17-year old journey with these men and are now witnessing their retirement. Both men are simply and utterly fantastic here, giving their all to these parts as well as making their exits richly satisfying yet hard for many fans to bear. Outside of Jackman's and Stewart, the side character that steals the show is Logan's young daughter Laura, X-23 played by Dafne Keene. When Dafne is on the screen, she steals the show as well as making it believable that she is Logan's daughter, creating a complexed yet sentimental relationship between them. With those three main characters driving the story, the films main fault lies within the lack of a strong villain such as Boyd Holbrook as Pierce, an effective but not necessarily a memorable antagonist as his sole mission was to pursue the young mutant Laura, whom falls into the care of both Professor X and Logan. Perhaps that was intentional as the main focus of the story appears to be on Logan during his later years while caring for the Professor along with carrying all the pain and loss he experienced over the years. In terms of the films overall look and style, the film is darker than any previous installment in the Wolverine franchise and more emotionally depressing. The film looks as if it's shot like a modern day Western as Logan and Pierce fight over X-23 with Logan caring for an ailing Professor X along the Mexican border. One of Logan's greatest traits outside of its fantastic performances and terrific cinematography, is how it aspires to break apart from being a standard Marvel comic book movie and try to transcend the genre like what Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight trilogy did for DCs side of comic book movies. The messages that Logan delivers to the audience, is more along the lines of being who you are and not what someone else wants you to be, as well as there is some form of good in everyone. Logan is a story that plays off themes pertaining to death, pain, grief, love, acceptance, and ultimately caring for others with the ultimate message that sums up the entire X-Men and Logan franchise is simply that everyone needs a family. Logan's story resonates with audiences because of the power it delivers with those themes being incorporated into the story as well as Logan being a character in the franchise whose experienced constant pain throughout his life, yet in the end chooses to do the right thing.

Overall, Logan represents a fantastic finish to the Wolverine storyline thats played on the big screen for 17 years, giving both the character and Hugh Jackman a proper finish as audiences will surely miss seeing both on the big screen together as a team. The story of Logan is the heart of the film as it is first and foremost about pain and loss with the main villain being time itself that allowed both to take its toll on the main characters. With those key things, Jackman, Stewart, and director James Mangold captures those themes perfectly while offering audiences a combination of a modern Western combined with being an emotionally gripping drama disguised as a comic book movie. While other actors will undoubtedly take over from where Hugh Jackman left off, Jackman's Wolverine for most fans is a fanboy treasure, and an entity that is going to go down as one of the most triumphant achievements in the comic book movie genre. As a finale to both the Wolverine and Professor X arc of movies, one could not have asked for a more satisfying finish except that they'd have a much stronger villain. Both Jackman and Stewart deserve high praise for their performances here, as well as applauds from fans for the 17 years of deep commitment they brought to these roles as both casting choices were not only brilliant but damn near absolute. The best compliment that can be given to the film itself, is how it dares to go beyond its own genre and come across as being a genuine work of art as well as making the audience feel for these characters they've grown accustomed to for nearly two decades by the films end. Whether or not one finds the end outcomes for both Wolverine and Professor Xs story arcs satisfying, they'd be hard pressed to not feel something for these characters by the end of the film. Whereas most Marvel movies aim to entertain their audience without leaving much of an emotional impact with them, Logan dares to reach further and for that, it deserves much credit. Logan is one of 2017s breakthrough filmmaking achievements but also one that should not be seen without a box of tissue.

P.S. Hugh Jackman's evil clone was badass.

                                                                                                                                          9 out of 10

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Beauty And The Beast 2017 Review

Finally got to see the new live action Beauty And The Beast once again produced by Disney who brought us the all time 1991 classic that became the first animated film in history to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture.

SPOILERS

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      Let me begin by saying that the original Beauty And The Beast remains one of the defining movies of my childhood as well as a masterpiece and my second favorite love story next to Titanic 1997. Growing up, there were three main Disney films that dominated my childhood which was Aladdin, The Lion King, and Beauty And The Beast. When I first saw the trailer for the live action Beauty And The Beast, I got excited as well as goosebumps in regards to the authenticity of the original being present in the early trailer. Disney has impressed me thus far with their early attempts at turning classic Disney stories into live action films as I enjoyed 2015s Cinderella, and 2016s The Jungle Book prior to going into the new Beast film. My expectations for this one was never for it to be better than the original which is a near impossible task given the legacy of that one and it's level of spontaneousness but I hoped for a live action adaptation that remained faithful to its predecessor while standing on its own feet as a standalone movie. So the question on everyone's mind reading this review is whether Beauty And The Beast lived up to the expectations placed upon it by audiences and critics who loved the first film? The answer is to put it frankly, an absolute and astounding yes.

Beauty And The Beast 2017 is not only a faithful adaptation to the original classic that does it complete Justice but it also carries with it a certain level of Disney magic as it's own tale of classic romance. Chicago director Bill Condon had the extremely difficult task of bringing this complicated love story revolving around the concept of Stockholm Syndrome to life from cartoon, and does he deliver in that regard. The love story doesn't just present large doses of nostalgia with audiences making them feel like a kid again but it actually works as a more mature and upgraded romance. The movies greatest strengths is in regards to the believability of the cast as well as the authenticity of the film with the Art-Set Decoration of the film as well as the Costume Design and music nailing the style of the film perfectly while maintaining key moments that made the first film so enchanting for audiences such as Beast and Belle sharing their official dance and Be Our Guests musical number being reenacted in stunning live action form. In regards to the performances themselves, the cast is near flawless with Emma Watson turning in a fantastic performance as Belle with her only fault being her singing feels a bit off at times.  At first I questioned if someone else could've portrayed Belle as the look of Watson doesn't quite matchup with how Belle appears in the original cartoon, but her performance captures the spirit, the wonder, and the essence of the character. She makes it believable that a girl of her stature could fall in love with her captor and rescuer over a brief period of time. Dan Stevens is simply stunning as Beast, not only having the look of him in human form but nails the mannerisms of the original Beast perfectly along with the voice. Luke Evans proves to be a perfect Gaston in live action form with this version of him coming across as being more unlikeable making him a cross between the original Gaston and Billy Zane from Titanic. Kevin Kline shines as Maurice, Belle's father who not only cares about his daughters future but also mourns the loss of her mother. Josh Gad shines as LaFeo, Gaston's close friend and admired, often stealing the show when he's on screen along with sharing a surprise twist with his character in the films climax, prompting unnecessary controversy in regards to the sexual orientation of his character. As for other supporting roles, Ian McKellen, Ewan McGregor, and Emma Thompson all shine as members of Beasts servants in the mansion turned accessories with McKellen playing the clock named Cogsworth, Ewan McGregor as Lumiere the candlestick, and Emma Thompson as Miss Potts. These additions to the film as well as the characters they play do a remarkable job at capturing the spirit of the original characters while bringing new life to them, giving audiences goosebumps as they relive their childhood on the big screen. With the acting and technical aspects of the movie being amongst the strongest points of the film, the strongest point is also the live action movie embracing it's own legacy, taking the same story and making its own interpretation of it while adding to the characters and their motivations. This time the audience feels Maurice's pain at the loss of his wife and Belle's mother, this time the audience hates Gaston more as he shows his true character and snake like personality especially towards Maurice, this time after Beast saves Belle from being attacked from the Wolves, their relationship really begins to grow stronger whereas the original film had them suddenly falling in love with not much buildup in between Beast rescuing her and their magical dance moment together. Beast also has moments where his personality and past is fleshed out more with him reflecting on his own childhood and feeling genuinely sad once Belle leaves to help her father. The live action version doesn't take away anything from the original but expands on it both story wise and technologically. The best remakes are the ones that don't try to copy the same film 100 percent but pay the utmost respect to their predecessors while crafting their own interpretations of the same story. The live action version of Beauty And The Beast can gladly be classified as one of the rare movie remakes that actually works as well as being an example that the transformation from cartoon to live action can actually work along much like The Jungle Book.

Overall, Beauty And The Beast 2017 is a stunning and magical retelling of a classic Disney story that's endured the test of time within its 25 plus years of existence, leaving a powerful stamp on young audiences worldwide as well as a benchmark for the type of impact a cartoon film can leave upon audiences. The original Beauty And The Beast was the first animated film of its kind to garner an Academy Award nomination for Best Picture which it lost to Silence Of The Lambs. While the live action movie will most likely miss that opportunity to repeat history twice despite being worthy of an actual nomination, it still deserves recognition in technical categories such as Visual Effects Costume Design, Art-Set Decoration, music, and Cinematography which was breathtaking and stellar. The greatest joy of watching the live action movie is the nostalgia of seeing a familiar faces and locations in Beatss castle come to light while hearing familiar musical numbers such as the opening scene with Belle's music which quickly provokes feelings of childhood nostalgia. Beauty And The Beast 2017 is a faithful live action adaptation that succeeds because of its remarkable cast, the amazing attention to detail that it's director, Bill Condon, brought to the big screen in an effort to being audiences back to this magical world, and the magical feeling that Disney was able to replicate with this version, making audiences care once again about the romance between a young girl and a Beast. While some will always prefer the original film which is still the superior version, Beast 2017 stands on its own ground giving audiences a faithful adaptation that often feels amazing at times that it's actually capturing the feelings we had upon seeing the first film 25 years ago. Beauty and the Beast does nothing to harm the legacy of the original but reintroduces it to a new generation of young audiences while giving older fans a more mature version of a tale as old as time.
                                                                                                                                         9 out of 10

Our characters for this evening:
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Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Suicide Squad Review

Finally got to watch Suicide Squad. SPOILER FREE

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      Let me start by saying before going into this movie, I've always been a fan of the DC universe and always loved characters such as Batman, Superman, Wonderwoman etc but also loved The Joker and Harley Quinn. Despite the many flaws that Zack Snyder's Batman Vs Superman film had, I enjoyed the movie as a piece of entertainment although it's clearly obvious that DC has a lot of work to do if they hope to make their universe expand like Marvels. Like many, I was shocked at the hostile negative reviews that Suicide Squad got prior to it's release as I was hoping for it to not only be a massive improvement over Batman Vs Superman but also to reassure any fears that the DC universe is not in any danger of failing. Going into this, I had no real knowledge do the comics for Suicide Squad prior to this and went in wanting to be surprised by all the characters and plot elements, which is also why I refused to read any reviews for the film prior to watching it to form my own opinion of it. Now that I've seen the film and reviewing it now, I can say that while the movie was not a great picture, it is far better than what the critics gave it credit for.
      Suicide Squad is a solid and entertaining popcorn blockbuster that gets more crap than it deserves as it delivers on providing the fun despite the film needing a directors cut (especially in the case of Jared Leto's character The Joker). Taking place after the events of Batman Vs Superman, Suicide Squad centers around a secret government agency recruiting a group of imprisoned supervillains in hopes of them completing dangerous black ops missions in exchange for clemency, leading to chaos. Suicide Squad does a good job of juggling it's group of colorful characters giving them all moments to shine with the two best performances coming from Will Smith turning in a likeable yet hilarious performance as Deadshot and Margot Robbie (Perfectly casted) making for a stunning Harley Quinn. The most controversial casting choice in the film which paid off nicely despite the actor only being given a limited amount of screen time in the film is Jared Leto in the films most anticipated role as The Joker. Much has been said about Leto's casting choice prior to the films release and after its opening where audiences first complained about the tattoos and gold teeth his character possesses but now the consensus seems to be he wasn't given enough time to truly develop in the film like Harley Quinn's character. Perhaps the filmmakers are saving Leto's Joker for future films and this was merely a setup for future installments, or maybe the filmmakers chose to make this more of Harley Quinn's movie giving brief glimpses into her relationship with The Joker while leaving much to be desired between the two. The marketing and trailers for the film made it seem like his character would have more significance to the plot than what is revealed in the film but the actor still does a good job with what he's given. It's a shame that the filmmakers chose to cut out large portions of scenes that would've given his character a more pivotal part in the films story. I guess the question on many moviegoers minds is does Leto compare with Heath Ledger's Joker and hold his own given the enormous shoes he had to fill? One should not draw a comparison between the two as the universes are completely different as well as the actors and their performances. Whereas Ledger's Joker will probably go down as being the definitive Joker for a long time, Leto's performance is one that gives hope that we can have a strong Joker character in the DC universe so long as the filmmakers give him more to do next round. Viola Davis turns in a solid performance as the head of the agency that enlisted the squad, with Joel Kinnaman and Jay Hernandez turning in strong supporting roles as well.  In terms of the actors performance, everyone in the movie delivers as they bring their A game to the picture, making the chemistry between the team flow naturally and provides a great deal of fun. The whole team looks like they're having a blast here and the audience can clearly see it on the screen.
      In regards to the films technical aspects, Suicide Squad's directorial style from David Ayer feels like a mixture of Guy Ritchie with the hip soundtrack giving it a Guardians Of The Galaxy feel to it. Perhaps this was an effort on the filmmakers and studios part to make the movie less dark and serious than what Batman Vs Superman turned out to be. It's well known that the filmmakers chose to do reshoots soon after the success of Deadpool and critical panning of Zack Snyder's movie to make the movie more fun spirited. Maybe the changes they made to the film hurt it's reception with critics as the movie should've probably remained untouched and came out exactly the way it was, maybe it helped make the film more enjoyable as fans can't truly be sure which of the two turned out to be true. The film moves at a fairly decent pacing not being as painful as the ones for Batman Vs Superman and X-Men Apocalypse, but feels like the story wasn't as rushed as many critics made it out to be. Still, one strongly recommends an extended cut of the movie to be released like the 3 hour cut of Batman Vs Superman to clean up some of the movies padding and story issues. Visually the film looks stunning on the big screen with impressive cinematography and art-set decoration. Despite the movie looking great, it often felt like a combination of a videogame mixed with a music video.
       Overall, Suicide Squad is a entertaining and ultimately satisfying summer blockbuster flick that doesn't deserve the type of flak it's been getting from the critics, although the film is not without it's flaws. Perhaps there was too many songs thrown into the movie but honestly it doesn't destroy ones experience of watching the movie as ultimately the soundtrack adds to the film making it one of the movies highpoints, even if it feels like they were forcing the Guardians Of The Galaxy tone. If one needs a good reason to go see this movie, it's for Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn and Will Smith as Deadshot, the two work great together. Jared Leto didn't do a bad performance as he was playing his own Joker but the problem is he wasn't given enough time to truly shine as his screen time is greatly limited. Despite the third act of the film being exciting, one can't help but feel that it felt like the filmmakers were ripping off Ghostbusters with how the characters and sequence was set up. One sincerely hopes that the studio decides to release an extended cut of the film down the road to help improve the critical reception the film received as this movie isn't deserving of its criticism despite its flaws. I disagree with the consensus that Suicide Squad has a thin and convulted plot with characters thinly written and directing that's choppy.  I felt the characters were developed well given the films running time and provided more humor than the previous DC universe films combined, but one feels that an extended cut would more than clean up some of the films problems. Thumbs up.
                                                                                                                                                 7.5/10

 P.S. Ben Affleck's cameo in the movie rocks. He's truly an awesome Batman and continues to be a casting choice that ultimately matches and surpasses expectations. One awaits his solo Batman film with great anticipation and interest.
Our characters for this evening:
                        
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Friday, August 5, 2016

Jason Bourne Review

So I finally got to watch Jason Bourne. SPOILER FREE

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      Let me start by saying I grew up as a fan of the Jason Bourne trilogy since I saw the first one around the time of The Bourne Supremacy release in theaters. I didn't get to catch the first one in theaters nor did I discover it until the release of the second one in which I watched it before going to see Supremacy. I thought it was a good action movie thriller with a solid concept. The idea of a lead character trying to find his identity while having his memory wiped made for a hero that was both relatable to the audience as well as vulnerable. I didn't love the first movie right away but I dug it. The Bourne Supremacy was a superior movie to The Bourne Identity in my eyes as it took everything great about the first movie and expanded on it with Matt Damon turning in a much stronger and convincing performance that the audience can truly buy this guy as being a trained assassin before his memory was wiped. Paul Greengrass slick camera work and fast pacing made it feel like one endless ride with this character as he fights to figure out who he is. It was essentially Total Recall mixed with the Fugitive. The Bourne Ultimatum to me was a perfect sequel to the Bourne trilogy and really should've been the last installment as it ended everything so nicely. Bourne not only got his memory back and remembered everything but he ended his journey exactly the way it started with him in the ocean evading the authorities compared to the opening scene of the first where the fishermen pull him out of the water. If one looks at the significance of those two scenes they realize that the series was perfect as just three films and really should've been left at that. The idea of continuing the series with a new character wasn't very promising as they did so but kept referencing Jason Bourne throughout that film making audiences care less about the new character and more curious about what Bourne was up to or if he was going to make a cameo at the end which never happened. The Bourne Legacy wasn't a terrible film but it failed to restart the series the way it wanted to with a newer character, because audiences to be brutally honest simply didn't care for a new character and wanted Bourne back on the big screen. Now 9 years after the events of The Bourne Ultimatum, Jason Bourne returns to the big screen after both Matt Damon and Paul Greengrass announced their return to the franchise in hopes of fixing it after the damage Legacy did to it. The question on many audiences minds is whether Matt Damon and Paul Greengrass did just that? The answer is a very disappointing negative.
      Jason Bourne as a whole is a slight improvement over The Bourne Legacy but still comes across as an overall disappointment taken into account the promise it was delivering to fans as well as the potential it carried in regards to bringing back an iconic character and giving him a triumphant return. The story for the new film centers around former operative of the CIA named Jason Bourne whose forced out of hiding to uncover truths about his past which also involves his father and the reasons behind his death. Jason Bourne looks great on film directing and acting wise as everyone did good but it suffers from a really horrible cause of Deja Vu as the storyline is paper thin and feels directly like a remake of The Bourne Supremacy with Bourne once again on the run from an agency that wants to bring him out of hiding with a connection being led to his father from the past. It's not that Jason Bourne isn't exciting this time around as a character as Damon gives another strong performance given the circumstances he's surrounded by, the storyline is terrible and ultimately is what brings the movie down. The audience is once again treated to another story of Bourne on the run recycling the same subplots from previous movies and not daring to do anything new with its story or characters. The true standouts of this movie are Matt Damon as Bourne and Tommy Lee Jones as a sleazy CIA director, who attempts to force Bourne out of hiding. Julia Stiles makes her return as Nicky from the original Bourne trilogy but her character doesn't develop much further from where the audience last sees her and her character is wasted feeling like a setup for Bourne's character to jump back into action. She also looks like she didn't want to be in the film as her physical appearance is much different than the previous films making her look more tired and bored. It's a shame because her character actually comes across as more likeable as the films go once you learn about her association with Bourne. One wishes that the filmmakers elaborated more on her relationship with Bourne which was described as being romantic in a brief reference in The Bourne Ultimatum. Alicia Vikander does a serviceable job playing the new female accomplice to Bourne in this story as she assists him in his mission while having a few secrets of her own. While it's not the actress to blame for the character turning out to be bland but rather a dry script with cardboard new characters.  Damon and Jones carry the film as everything else around them crumbles due to such a poor script. The opening chase sequence involving one of the assassins assigned to kill Bourne played by Vincent Cassel who has a personal score to settle with Bourne, and both Bourne and Nicky riding on a motorcycle from both the antagonist and authorities. While the sequence itself is exciting and well filmed with Greengrass intense directing and never-ending shaky camera style of filming, it serves as a been there and done that familiar tone to it as audiences have seen this sequence before in all the previous Bourne movies. Whereas the movie falls apart in certain places such as the middle portion, John Powells electrifying score picks up the pieces adding to the excitement and intensity of the film. One can almost figure out the filmmakers pattern of making such movies as Bourne goes on the run with female sidekick (which in this case is both Julia Stiles then switches to Alicia Vikander in the latter half of the film as she aids Bourne in his quest) as the general plotline and it's guaranteed that there is always a motorcycle chase and a key hand to hand fight scene that occurs in the movie between Bourne and someone else trying to kill him. I'm not saying that those key scenes don't work in the film, I'm saying that the film feels like the filmmakers seem to find themselves retracing their own steps in regards to choosing where to take the story next with this character. What makes the new film less compelling, is that Bourne no longer feels vulnerable as a character now that he has his memory back and remembers everything. There's no hook to the story or his character to make us truly care about his journey this time as his legacy has already been cemented. If you ask me, his journey was finished with the end of Ultimatum and seeing all the film's that came after that one almost feels that the filmmakers feel the same way but won't admit it. It seemed as if the movie was gasping for straws in regards to telling it's story because the fact that Bourne remembers everything makes his journey complete and him trying to find out information that he never even knew about prior is pointless and shows desperation to milk a franchise that's already past it's prime. Bringing Bourne's father into the mix and having him connected to the same agency as Jason and having him be the reason he was killed is pretty far fetched as none of that information was ever mentioned in the previous three films. I'm not saying that Jason Bourne is a terrible movie but it's a movie that didn't need to happen with a story that's been told and completed to absolute perfection with the original Bourne trilogy. The film does try to tackle themes that pertain to today's world such as the issue of privacy as it suggests the whole world is being watched with other topics being touched upon such as surveillance, advancing technology, CIA tactics, covert operations, assassins, world domination, induced amnesia, manipulation, control, power, greed, living off the grid, patriotism, and moral convictions. While these themes are strong enough to make for a compelling story, one wishes the filmmakers didn't try to repeat past events and pivotal plotlines as Deja Vu is the greatest enemy of this film.
      Overall Jason Bourne is a mildly entertaining yet forgettable entry in the Bourne series that should've ended with The Bourne Ultimatium as the story opened and concluded with Bourne in the water and his journey in between returning to the ocean was him slowly regaining not just his memory back but his humanity as well. The films strong points such as Damon and Jones performance as well as Greengrass intense directing and cinematography aren't enough to make up for the films boring and useless storyline. For Damon and Greengrass alone, the film is only worth watching once if you're a fan of the series but then it should be forgotten about as it doesn't hold up to the first three installments which got progressively better as they went. The message behind the film is that government agencies can use extreme tactics and strategies while harming their own operatives at times. The biggest problem with the series post Ultimatium, is that it gives fans more of what they come to expect and that also ends up being it's weakness because the story does nothing to change the fact that Bourne is consistently running from the authorities in each movie and the film essentially feels like a remake of the original films meshed together especially The Bourne Supremacy. Outside of Damon and Greengrass talents which make the movie bearable (The pacing gets painful in the middle section as the story reveals itself and becomes rather uninteresting), this movie is not really worth watching in theaters outside of a couple of impressive yet too few action sequences and one should pretend that the series finished on a high note with The Bourne Ultimatium. The Bourne series has officially become a case of the studio figuring that they could but didn't stop to think of whether they should. Thumbs down, the best thing that can be said about this sequel is that it pretends as if Bourne Legacy doesn't exist.

                                                                                                                                                    6/10
Our characters for this evening:
 

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Image result for jason bourne movie pics alica
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Image result for jason bourne movie pics tommy lee jones
Image result for jason bourne movie pics
Image result for jason bourne movie pics tommy lee jones
Image result for jason bourne movie pics julia stiles