Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Spiderman Homecoming Review

The hot streak of 2017 in regards to delivering stellar comic book movies continues with Marvel's classy and highly effective reintroduction of the popular web slinger titled Spiderman Homecoming

SPOILER FREE

Before going into my thoughts on Homecoming, let me first reflect on the past big screen Spiderman efforts that came and went. Before seeing this movie, I considered the 2002 Sam Raimi film with Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst to be the definitive take on the classic Web Slinger I grew up loving the Fox cartoon of. Raimi's trilogy not only felt like the superior Spiderman films made in comparison to the Amazing Spiderman ones but they also had something the Amazing Spiderman films were severely lacking in and that's heart. Spiderman 2 remains one of the definitive Superhero movies ever made as it tackles Peter's struggle to balance out his two lives both as Peter Parker and the other as Spiderman. While Spiderman 3 is unquestionably the worst film out of the Raimi series, ending the trilogy with a whimper in many fans eyes, it still works as a somewhat satisfying closure to that trilogy as it completes Peter Parker, Mary Jane's, and Harry Osborn's trio friendship. 

Monday, July 10, 2017

Transformers: The Last Knight Review

So I regrettably got to watch the newest installment and the atrocious Transformers franchise titled Transformers: The Last Knight

SPOILER FREE

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      Let me start by saying that prior to watching this film I was previously a fan of the Transformers franchise but that was mainly because of my enjoyment of the first movie. The first Transformers surprised everyone with being action-packed, but also having moments of heart that were guided by Steven Spielberg producing the movie with Michael Bay giving the film his trademark directorial style which meant endless explosions and tons of moments of witty comedy with the plot making little to no sense. It just happened to all blend together nicely with the first Transformers movie because while the sequels got progressively worse in the story department, the first Transformers kept things consistent and gave audiences as well as fans of the classic cartoon show what they wanted. Revenge Of The Fallen is when things began to fall apart for the franchise as the sequel was not only poor in it's scriptwriting but everything became excessive and over the top (Those controversial twin robots didn't help things either as they received the largest movie character backlash since Jar Jar Binks). Dark Of The Moon made an attempt to amend the problems of Revenge Of The Fallen with an improved script but gone was Megan Fox as Shia Labeoufs love interest as she was replaced by a model that audiences have already forgotten about. One of the things that made the first Transformers movie quite spontaneous and magical at times was not just the impressive technology the film presented but also getting to know Sam Witwhicky played by Shia Labeouf and watching him try to win over Megan Fox's character. When the arc of Shia Transformers films ended with Dark Of The Moon, that's when the series really began to take a turn for the worse as Age Of Extinction was not only the worst Transformers film since Revenge Of The Fallen but it genuinely felt like Michael Bay didn't care about coherent storytelling anymore and jumped into hyperdrive in the action and special effects department without any type of regard for anything else. As awful as Age Of Extinction turned out to be, it was at least watchable for laughs but what comes after it is not even pleasantly watchable in a so bad it's good way, it's just really bad. Transformers: The Last Knight is not only the worst movie of the franchise ala Die Hard 5, it's perhaps the worst and most toxic film to be released this year thus far with no amount of explosions or action that is able to save it.

       Transformers: The Last Knight is a product of the greed and recklessness of it's director, whose ditched fundamental storytelling in exchange for one major action set piece after another. There is no argument that the films special effects are once again very impressive on a technological scale (That seems to be the only thing Bay advances at in this franchise), it's everything else in the food that falls apart with a story and script that's so convulted and messy for audiences to understand. While they may enjoy the occasional explosion that comes every 10 to 15 mins there's hardly any story to latch onto. The plot for The Last Knight centers around the Autobots and Decepticons raging war with humans on the sidelines. With Optimus Prime gone, the key to mankind's future lies within the ancient secrets of the history of the Transformers that lies on Earth. One would think that the combination of mid evil times meshing with modern day Transformers would seem like the genuine pick me up the franchise needed but unfortunately it wasn't. The model aspect of the story is poorly handled and not given much time to be properly explored in the story. As far as acting performances go, Mark Whalberg brings nothing special to the table and is clearly here for a paycheck. Anthony Hopkins is the only saving grace of the film as he takes the material hes given and makes the absolute best of it. His casting is one of the few things done right with this film. Laura Haddock does her absolute best impersonation of Megan Fox look wise as she appears to be casted based on her physical appearance being similar despite her character being completely different. She's there to look hot more so then add anything pivotal to the storyline other than a potential love interest for Mark Whalberg character. The film desperately tries to tie itself with the Shia Labeouf Transformers films with important side characters making return appears such as John Turturos character and Josh Duhamel reprising their respective roles to help connect the new films with the past. While it's nice to see familiar character make return appearances, it does very little to change the overall mood and tone of the film ( Anyone else wonder where Tyrese's character was at in the film since he was so closely associated with Duhamel's in the first three movies). What made the first Transformers film so likeable and appealing to fans as well as audiences, was how it came off as being cool while never trying to take itself too seriously. The movie was clearly aimed at it's teenage audience, who still flock to see these movies regardless of how diminishing their quality becomes with each installment. What the first movie had first and foremost that the sequels lack is heart. You actually cared about the robots as well as Shia Labeouf and Megan Fox's character. Perhaps Spielberg was holding Bays hand while making the first movie because after the first film, that heart and becoming emotionally involved with the story faded. Who didn't feel emotion when BumbleBee was captured by the authorities in the first movie and wanted to jump through the screen and help Labeouf rescue him? With The Last Knight, the audience could care less about the characters or what's happening in the story because as much as Bay and the writers want to pass off the story as being something of actual value, it feels paper thin and lacking any kind of heart and soul. The problem that Bays Transformers films have outside of the first film is them all feeling stretched out plot wise with characters that are bland, and a plot that is so messy and contrived it confuses and irritates the viewer rather than drawing them in. The Last Knight is pretty much Bayhem at his most extreme and careless as he places the state of the art technology first and foremost over everything else. The Last Knight is exactly the type of film you'd expect it to be as both a Michael Bay film and a fifth installment of the Transformers franchise that began strong but now has morphed into nothing short of CGI porn.

        As much as I criticize Michael Bay with my review of The Last Knight, I do not think he's complete disaster of a filmmaker. When it comes to creating visual styles and world's, Bay is one of the best working in the business today as he can give audiences pure spectacle on the big screen even if it's derived of any kind of storytelling. The film plays out like one endless trailer rather than actually feeling like a movie which the first one was. It isn't that Bay is not capable of making good movies (Bad Boys, The Rock, Armageddon, The Island, and Transformers were strong films), it's that he doesn't seem to value storytelling over style and chooses the latter knowing that audiences don't come for the stories but rather the explosive action and groundbreaking technology he presents on the big screen. The man is essentially James Cameron in regards to advancing technology with each Transformer film he does excepts lacks the brains and intelligence that come with Cameron's scripts to balance out the visual effects. As an overall film, The Last Knight is a huge disappointment for fans of the franchise and just comes off as being a bad movie altogether. There was a time when even the worst Transformers movies came out, you still felt a tiny ounce of interest in watching them because you know exactly what you're getting from them being their directed by Michael Bay. With The Last Knight, the movie is just long, torturous, frustrating, and lacking all the basic fundamentals of storytelling to make it a good movie. This is not only one of the worst movies of the year thus far but may be Michael Bays worst film as one thought he couldn't get any worse than either Revenge Of The Fallen or Age Of Extinction. We were wrong. Fans of both the franchise and the old cartoon deserve much better than what's being dishes at them. This is not a movie that feels like it has the love for the fan base driving, it feels more like a slap in the face to them with Bay showing his disregard for doing the source material justice nor respecting it. Avoid like a nasty plague and pretend the series ended with previous highs, which for me was the end of the first movie. The only promising thing that comes at the end of watching this installment is the movie apparently doing so poorly with audiences at the box office that it just might prevent Michael Bay from directing another one. For that, we can only hope.                                                                                                                              2 out of 10

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All Eyez On Me Review

So I finally got to see the mildly entertaining yet highly disappointing Tupac biography titled All Eyez On Me

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      Before going into this movie, I wasn't a die hard fan of Tupac Shakur, but I enjoyed much of his music as well as the majority of the films he acted in prior to this death. Upon hearing about a biography on the complexed singer being made, I held optimism that it would be entertaining and do the main figure justice. The 2009 Notorious movie was decent but not a great film, it entertained and did what it was supposed to, but lacked the extra punch and dedication to make it a great biography. With All Eyez On Me, the expectations were high for the filmmakers to deliver not just a fitting biography, but one that is also thought-provoking and reflects on the kind of person Tupac was and the legacy he left behind. The trailer for the film was promising with the main actor spawning an uncanny look much like the actual real life figure, giving the audience the feeling that something special is in the making as the filmmakers clearly aspire to have the same type of box office and critical success like 2015's Straight Outta Compton achieved. One went into this movie with great skepticism after hearing all of the bad reviews it received with comments ranging from being inaccurate to feeling meshed together with no heart. Having seen All Eyez On Me, I can safely say that the film is completely deserving of all the negative reviews it's received.

        Despite the film being mildly entertaining, the movie is a huge disappointment for fans of the late singer who wanted a biography that gave a more complexed view of Shakur. All Eyez On Me is a biography that looks good on the outside but on the inside, it lacks the ambition, the heart, the courage, and determination to tell what should've been a more gripping story. This biography is not only by-the-numbers, but it rushes through it's timeline and main events of the rapper/actors life to the point where the editing feels choppy and borderline messy. It isn't the fault of the main actor as Demetrius Shipp Jr. turns in a likeable performance as Tupac Shakur, but the material and environment he's surrounded by feels completely uninspired and lacks true vision. The film feels like it was made with the purpose of making a financial profit rather than adding to Shakur's legacy. The films shallow surface fails to allow Shipp to capture the complexed personality of Shakur nor portray the true depths of his talent. The film forcibly races through the rappers major life events like reading through his biography on Wikipedia, that the film never bothers to take moments to try and explore the personal side of Shakur nor ask questions about him. That easily becomes the biggest tragedy of the film as the movie runs with a running time of almost two and a half hours but it never truly gets to know the man that inspired the biography. If anything, the movie does more harm to Shakur's legacy than preserve it by not capturing his charisma and complexity both as a musician and actor. Subplots such as the one involving him confronting his mother whose revealed to be doing drugs is briefly touched upon then dropped as the movie jumps from one timeline to the next without hesitation. Shakur's character never truly feels like he has an arc in the story or something the filmmakers can build up to outside of the obvious climax that everyone whose familiar with his name knows comes at the end. The moments where the filmmakers show glimpses of Tupac's career both as an actor and a rapper will provoke nostalgia for those who grew up witnessing his rise to stardom in the 90's, but that also feels like desperation on the filmmakers part to appease his fans by saying "here, we showed you this part of Shakur's life. Happy? Might as well be, now lets move on." The films main crime in regards to entertaining it's audience is it lacks a true sense of sincerity with the overall project as the film doesn't care so much to really get into the head of it's main figure but rather to cash in on the nostalgia effect of his songs and key life events without regard for anything else. That in retrospect is a shame because such a controversial character like Tupac Shakur deserves a film as well as a filmmaker that not only gives the audience doses of their earlier memories of Shakur but to also give and answer questions that people may have in regard to his life outside the public eye.

      All Eyez On Me is not a terrible film but it's far from being the film that it could've been. On a technical aspect, the film was well shot and feels like it's structured to be very similar to Straight Outta Compton in hopes of being a similar type of critical and box office smash. If that was the filmmakers intention to duplicate the same type of response with this movie, then they failed as the movie not only was critically panned by major newspapers and critics but it dropped a nasty 78 percent in it's second weekend at the US box office after a strong 27 million opening. One could only imagine what this films legs at the box office would've been like had someone along the lines of John Singleton directed it with a much stronger script for Demetrius Shipp Jr. to really dig deep into. All Eyez On Me is one of the greatest movie tragedies of 2017 not because of what it ended up being as a movie, but what it could've been had the movie been given greater care by its filmmakers and actually had a heart. The film lacks a soul and never once tries to be bold or brave with it's presentation. For fans of Tupac Shakur or those who wish to know more about the legendary rappers life, they should skip this film and watch a surprisingly good documentary titled Tupac Resurrection. That film is more satisfying of a biography than this movie which is sad to admit but true. As Siskel and Ebert would say, two major thumbs down.

                                                        5 out of 10

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Boss Baby Review

So I finally got to see the surprisingly funny animated comedy titled Boss Baby
 
SPOILER FREE
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      Before going into this movie, I will admit first and foremost that I was not drawn to the film at first due to it's poor marketing that didn't appear to catch my eye. I was not happy that the film dethroned Beauty And The Beast from it's box office glory of being the number one after it's first two weeks. Unlike other animated films that came out this year such as Pixar's Cars 3 or Despicable Me 3, I didn't see much appeal in this film until I saw that Alec Baldwin was playing boss baby then I became interested in it. Despite my reservations about the film, I decided to give the movie a chance as I feel true moviegoers would give it the benefit of the doubt before passing judgment which many critics also made the same conscious decision. Having seen Boss Baby, I can say that while the film was not a great animated film by any means, it was a surprisingly decent and often funny flick.
 
      Boss Baby is charming, clever, witty, and visually stunning as it takes it's talented cast among the likes of Alec Baldwin, Steve Buscemi, Jimmy Kimmel, and Lisa Kudrow, and creates a reasonably satisfying film. The film is a cartoon that looks and feels like an actual cartoon that is given life through it's goofy nature and sheer energy. The film never takes itself too seriously, and it's probably best that it sticks to that strategy of being entertaining without trying to break it's comfort zone. In terms of the films visual style, the animation and special effects are superbly done and constructed that doesn't take away from the movie but adds to it's charm with moments such as the baby's drool falling from it's lips or a close up of its eyes, giving the character and story moments of genuine texture and emotion. In regards to the films message, the movie doesn't say anything other than there is more than enough love to go around in loving families. The films premise fits into this theme as both boss baby and his 7-year old brother fight for the love and affection of their parents while working together to foil the wicked and cruel plot involving the CEO of Puppy Co. With Alec Baldwin's brilliant and comedic performance, he makes the film highly amusing as well as giving boss baby an extremely likeable presence. As a children's film, Boss Baby is simple, sweet, and a good deal of fun if one doesn't it too seriously and just allow it's charming side do the work. Baldwin's performance is not only awesome here but he manages to warm your heart at times with his relationship with his older brother with the story essentially being about sibling rivalry. Despite the movie having genuinely funny moments, they come far in between as the rest of the film rests on a plot that isn't quite the strongest. For that reason, Boss Baby is a decent animated comedy instead of being a great and memorable one.
 
      As far as family films go, Boss Baby is one of the more unappreciated animated films of the year, as it's much better than what the critics made it out to be as well as the films lackluster marketing. Despite the film having a rather paper thin plot, it's the performance of Baldwin and the rest of the supporting cast that makes the movie entertaining to watch as well as heartwarming with it's message that there is more than enough love to go around for siblings in a family that genuinely loves and cares for each other. For young children as well as adults, they will fall in love with Boss Baby while the adults getting a surprise with the films humor. Boss Baby is a movie that may not satisfy audiences in it's story department, but will entertain and even surprise in it's humor and energy department.
 
                                                                                                                                     7 out of 10
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Cars 3 Review

So I finally got a chance to see the generally loved and significant improvement over the previous installment titled Cars 3

SPOILER FREE

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        Let me start by saying prior to going into this film, I enjoyed the first Cars movie and found it to be entertaining for what it was, despite it not being one of my very favorite Pixar films. I thought the concept of the film was fun with Owen Wilson proving to be perfect for the main character. Cars 2 was not only bad but represents the low point for Pixar. Whenever people ask when Pixar as a studio has screwed up movie wise, Cars 2 is immediately the first film that comes to mind although it's just one movie out of dozens. The studio struck cold last summer with Finding Dory's box office success and critical acclaim. One thing that Pixar is a master at outside of crafting good family stories, is they market their films to extreme with full confidence. They know the type of audience their reaching for and so far their strategy has paid off handsomely. Now we fast-forward to 2017 where we have Cars 3 as the studios main template, as well as being one of the summers biggest blockbusters and second biggest animated film next to Despicable 3. Going into it's initial theatrical release, Cars 3 had the tough act of trying to make up for the disappointment audiences felt with Cars 2 and be more of a direct sequel to the first Cars movie, not just in continuity but also box office and social stature. Having seen Cars 3, I can assure fans of the first movie who disliked the second and may be afraid to watch the third for fear that it'll suck that it doesn't.

      Cars 3 is an enjoyable third entry in the popular Cars trilogy, that manages to recapture the heart of the first film while essentially ignoring the second movie altogether. The storyline for Cars 3 centers around Lightning McQueen setting out to prove to a new generation of racers that he still has what it takes to be the best race car in the world. Cars 3 is essentially Rocky lll with the parallels being Lightning McQueen deals with time passing by and wanting to still leave an impact in the racing world. With the help of a female car that helps him train in a style similar to Rocky Balboa and Apollo Creed in the third film, McQueen goes on a rigorous training to prove that he's the best while giving the young female car a chance to prove her own worth after being inspired by him as a racer. The film having heart is one of the most important factors in regards to being a significant improvement over it's predecessor with the story being more consistent and easier to digest. The film feels like part McQueens film, but also carries with it a feminist undertone with yellow car named Cruz Ramirez to help McQueen get back to the top by working together with his training, but also have her moment to prove her own self worth on the track. Stating the obvious, the movie looks great in terms of animation as Pixar always makes their movies look great in regards to animation, while establishing themselves as the top animation studio to beat. Outside of the top notch animation, what makes Cars 3 work as a true sequel to the first film, is the films main story being both poignant and heartfelt with the message basically saying that even if a person can't do something they once were capable of any longer, they can still make a contribution to society. The story about McQueen pushing for himself to be competitive again as well as Cruzs desire to have a chance essentially tells the audience that they should believe in themselves as the bad can be used to turn into something good and a form of motivation. With the type of storyline Cars 3 holds, the once questionable Pixar franchise has not only found it's way back onto the main highway but might have some tread left in regards to being a piece of inspiration to young audiences in regards to it's message. The film erases the mess of the second and gives the third an emotional core that can essentially wrap up it's series on a strong note unless Pixar wishes to continue. As an attempt to reestablish the heart of the franchise, Cars 3 makes a strong attempt to return the series back to the form of the first one, even if the first movie wasn't exactly as strong as some of Pixar's other hits. It is the message of Cars 3, that makes it worthy of being praised with the film saying that there is no plan for growing old but it is up to you if you choose to give up or not.

      Overall Cars 3 is a fairly strong sequel that tries it's hardest to take what originally was a fun storyline that lost it's way and bring it back to it's original form while adding a strong message to the series. Despite the obvious noble efforts of the newest film to inject heart back into the franchise, it does little to change the fact that the Cars franchise as a whole still stands far from being one of Pixar's finest achievements as well as it's best trilogy (That titled proudly is worn by the Toy Story trilogy). Whereas the first Cars movie has charm and the second one is heartless and hollow, the third movie has heart and is a blessing that it ignores the sequel that came in between. Cars 3 remains one of the stronger family films of the year as well as a worthy sequel to the first Cars. If one goes into the third movie accepting it for what it is, they will be satisfied by it. If one is a fan of Cars but was severely disappointed by Cars 2, rest assured they will find enjoyment with Cars 3 as it not only manages to entertain it's audience but leaves a great message behind it.
                                                                                                                                                  7.5/10
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