№ 127: "Kingsman: The Golden Circle"
Director: Matthew Vaughn
Screenplay: Jane Goldman & Matthew Vaughn
As a fan of the first film, I knew I was at least going to have a good time. The first film had fantastic action sequences & was a funny/fresh take on the spy genre. This film doesn't disappoint in upholding the status quo set by the first film. There are some parts that I feel could have been improved upon, however.
As expected, the fight scenes are highly entertaining. I love the way the action is filmed, using quick bursts of slow-mo, focal changes & invisible cuts. During a fight scene in a car at the start of the film, the way Vaughn is able to utilize such a small space using camera movement alone is fantastic. I also loved all of the fights involving Pascal's electrified whip. Props to all actors & teams involved in bringing these fights to the screen.
I feel Moore's villain, Poppy, is decent enough to justify the events of the film. However, as w/ Jackson in the first film, her character really didn't do much. Sure she owns the seedy criminal organization, but in the end, she's dealt w/ in a very anti-climactic way. I enjoyed all of the interactions w/ her henchmen, I just wish she had the same kind of development.
Harry's return & the tech used on him is miraculous. It's a shame it isn't in every hospital. Share the science, you bastards! I'm disappointed w/ the handling of minor Kingsman agents in the film. The only death that felt dignified, came in the third act. Such a sad scene. Who knows, maybe there's more miracle tech, yet to be seen, that could facilitate a return of their character in the future.
Random bits: Elton John was so shoehorned. The President is sociopath, so they nailed that one. People from Louisville don't sound like that. Vagina GPS/Mic, really?
With the Kingsman & Statesman working together & Eggsy living the royal life, it'll be interested to see where they go from here. A third film seems likely at this point.
№ 126: "Million Dollar Baby"
Director: Clint Eastwood
Screenplay: Paul Haggis
If you haven't seen the film, I recommend you give it a view before reading this review.
What a depressing fucking ending! I'm still bummed writing this review, several days later. I suppose that's a testament to how well the acting and direction is in this film. I've been a fan of (most) Eastwood films, and this isn't an exception.
The highlight of this film for me is Swank's performance as Maggie. She has such an honesty about her in this role than it makes everything that follows that much more emotionally resonating. Her dynamic with Eastwood also works very well to bring home the impact of the third act of the film with her paralysis. Their relationship is endearing and heartfelt.
For the most part, I really enjoyed the pacing of the film. I do wish more time was spent in the middle of the film while Maggie traveled the globe in her career prime. It came off as a montage of sorts, but I understand why it was done. That's how it would feel to her, happening all too fast and then over too soon, only to be in her situation, never to experience it again. It reinforces her mental state, lying there helpless in the hospital, with her family clawing for her earnings.
I thought the fight scenes were very well done, if a bit obvious on the pulled punches in some spots. The cinematography throughout was very well done.
I also like how the film ended on Freeman's character writing a final letter to Eastwood's daughter. Implying that his voiceover through the film were letters written to her about her father's success. It's a bittersweet motif.
As I've mentioned above, I really enjoyed the film and recommend you give it a view. If you've seen the film, let me know what you thought below!
№ 125: "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2"
Director: James Gunn
Screenplay: James Gunn
Firstly, I think Gunn & team have made another winner for Marvel Studios & deserve all the praise they've received. The film is hilarious & I can't wait to see more of the Guardians in future MCU films.
A few jokes didn't land. They were cheesy & should've been cut, IMO. One involves a fruit 'not being ripe.' Second, "Nipples." Both seemed forced. Another has to do w/ yellow rocks at the end of the film. I facepalmed a bit, not gonna lie. A lot of people laughed loudly at these jokes, so I know I'm likely an outlier.
Apart from that, I loved the film. I enjoy the way we're introduced to Ego & Mantis. Mantis is probably the most adorable thing in the world. Close with Baby Groot. Ego's backstory is fascinating to me. I like to hold the headcanon that Ego is the brain of the celestial seen in Vol. 1, whose skull becomes "Knowhere." My favorite character has to be Drax, though. Bautista does such a fantastic job playing this character. Even in somber reflections of his family, he conveys such emotion while maintaining the stoic facade. A close second has to be Yondu. I love how his character is explored & utilized in the film. I like how we get to see his motives for not delivering Quill to Ego, as contracted. It gives interesting insights into his character & how he came to be an outcast in the ravager community.
The whole film is so colorful & gorgeous. Ego's planet is so visually rich, especially in the latter half of the film. The CGI in the film is marvelous. Ego's changing appearance, young Ego, Rocket & Groot, etc. Enough cannot be said for the practical effects/makeup departments, as well. All of the Alien species look phenomenal. I cannot fathom the amount of time spent on makeup for this film.
Overall, I had a blast with this one. I've seen it 3 times & can't wait to give it another view on Bluray. If you haven't seen it, I highly recommend it!
№ 124: "Clue"
Director: Jonathan Lynn
Screenplay: Jonathan Lynn, John Landis
I went into this film thinking I wouldn't enjoy it, but I was surprised how much I ended up liking it.
I really appreciate how the board game's premise was brought into the film. I was done in a interesting way, bringing all the famous characters from the game into the film using pseudonyms given to them by Wadsworth upon their arrival. Then having murders happen and investigations begin, etc.
I also was interested to learn that upon the film's initial release, the three endings presented at the end of the film were actually shown, at random, at various theaters across the country. So one person could have seen an ending where one character is the murderer and others a town over would have seen an entirely different ending. It wasn't until home video, and subsequently DVD, that all three endings were presented together. Some DVDs apparently have the option to randomize the ending as well for first time viewers, which I think is an awesome feature and like it's theatrical release, would have made for some interesting conversations.
I thought the acting here from our characters is what made me enjoy the film as much as I did. Tim Curry as Wadsworth is simply hilarious. His slapstick style of running from room to room makes each scene, especially toward the end, really enjoyable. Tangent, but it's hard for me to see Michael McKean as anyone other than Chuck from 'Better Call Saul,' so that took me out of the film for a bit. FUCK CHUCK! Also, Colleen Camp's Yvette 😍
Despite what you might read online, I think the film is rather enjoyable and worth a watch. I'm interested to see what others think of this one, so if you want to share your opinion, feel free to let me know in the comments!
№ 123: "Monster"
Director: Patty Jenkins
Screenplay: Patty Jenkins
I cannot begin to speak highly enough of Charlize Theron's performance in this film. I akin her transformation for the role to that of Christian Bale in 'The Machinist,' gaining 30+ pounds, shaving her eye brows, etc. She's virtually unrecognizable and completely embodies Aileen Wuornos in every way. From the flawless makeup and prosthetic teeth to the way she stands, constantly fidgeting, it's mesmerizing. Prior to watching this film, I was unaware of Wuornos or her crimes, but in watching interviews with her during/after her trial, it's even more apparent how completely Theron has nailed Wuornos' speech and mannerisms. Amazing performance.
Not to be overlooked, I feel Christina Ricci's performance as the naive approval-seeking Selby Wall (a fictional equivalent of Tyria Moore, Wuornos' lover) is just as vital to the story. Apparently Tyria is very litigious and Jenkins opted to avoid the hassle and make a new character for the events of the film. Ricci plays the character very well, IMO, and provides the needed emotional backing for Aileen's motivation to shift from prostitute to serial killer.
In terms of the plot, I found it truly fascinating. Although I know events related to the murders have been altered, I enjoyed the way Aileen's past has been presented in the film. Knowing about her upbringing from the open of the film really helps the audience understand her actions. I use the word "understand," because I feel Jenkins does a good job to not lead the audience to have sympathy for Aileen, just that we have a full understanding of what made her tick, and I appreciate that.
I also think set designers, wardrobe, hair/makeup etc. have done a great job capturing the look of the late 80's/early 90's for the film. It looks great.
If you haven't seen this film, I highly recommend it, for Theron's performance alone. Transformative and powerful performance.
№ 122: "The Age of Adaline"
Director: Lee Toland Krieger
Screenplay: J. Mills Goodloe, Salvador Paskowitz
I really enjoyed this film. I think it had it's weak points, which I'll discuss, but found it emotionally rewarding & worth the view.
I thought the premise of the film, while nothing new, was done nicely. I enjoy a story about Quasi-immortality & it's effects on one's psyche. That being said, I never felt that Lively's Adaline had lived through the atrocities that would have occurred during her lifetime. Born in 1908, immortal at age 29 in 1937, Adaline would have lived through two world wars, the space age, cold war, civil rights movement, 9/11 etc. It would have been nice to at least have her character make a mention of these events in either conversation w/ her daughter or w/ Ellis when she works up the nerve to tell him. It just makes her character seem very one-dimensional despite her narrative importance. Perhaps I'm missing something in her performance? If you disagree, let me know. On the other end of the spectrum, I thought this was one of Ford's best films in recent years. He brought a realness to William that really grounded the second half of the film. He made me feel the emotion & love for Adaline that William carries.
Slight tangent, but I am upset that Ingruber wasn't cast in the upcoming 'Han Solo' film. This dude is great as a young Ford. Though, he was in this film for less than 5 minutes & Alden Ehrenreich is a more experienced actor, so I understand why the choice was made.
As far as set design, wardrobe, hair/makeup, I thought everyone in those departments did a wonderful job recreating the look & feel of the eras displayed during the film.
I didn't enjoy the narration, it just felt so out of place. I also didn't like how they tried to give her immortality a scientific explanation. It just seemed to lessen it's importance.
I like the ending of the film & I'm glad Adaline gets to live a normal life w/ Ellis. Even if I'm still mad that Huisman looks nothing like Daario Naharis in ASOIAF!!!
№ 121: "The Neon Demon"
Director: Nicolas Winding Refn
Screenplay: Mary Laws, Nicolas Winding Refn, Polly Stenham
This movie is fucked.
I didn't know what to expect going in, as I've avoided spoilers since it's release. Only seeing one film by Nicolas Winding Refn, 'Bronson,' I was barely familiar w/ his style/directorial capabilities. I've had a few of his films on my list for a while now; 'Drive,' 'Only God Forgives' & 'Fear X,' to be specific. After seeing this film, I'm excited to give them a view.
First, let me say that I thought the cinematography, sound design, musical score for this movie were fantastic. Not enough can be said for the visuals that Nicolas Winding Refn & cinematographer Natasha Braier have brought to the screen. Between the makeup, lighting & wardrobe, each frame is filled w/ so much color & vivid imagery. I like the visual contrast between the bright & colorful world of fashion & the drab motel in which our lead stays. This, I feel, helps visually reaffirm the sense of vanity carried throughout the film by the characters & the field in which they work
Secondly, hats off to the actors in the film, especially Jena Malone & Elle Fanning. The former you may recognize from her role as Gretchen in 'Donny Darko.' The latter I first knew from the English Dub of 'Totoro' as the voice of Mei. She also stars in the recent Disney film 'Maleficent.' Everyone has done a fantastic job in their respective roles. I wasn't expecting Keanu's character to act as he does in the film. *Shivers*
I don't want to spoil much about the plot of the film except to say that is was slow for a majority & not much actually happened. That is, until the third act of the film after tense scene in the aforementioned shady motel, & the films turns it to 11.
I'd really like to discuss this film w/ someone, so I recommend giving it a view for that reason alone. If anything, it's a worth a watch for the cinematographic eye candy.
№ 120: "Throw Momma From The Train"
Director: Danny DeVito
Screenplay: Stu Silver
I've been a fan of Billy Crystal & Danny DeVito for as long as I can remember, so I knew going into this one that I would enjoy it, if only for their performances. I was pleasantly surprised by the plot of the film, as well as the supporting cast, especially Anne Ramsey's performance as 'Momma.' I didn't realize she was 'Mama Fratelli' from 'The Goonies' until preparing for this review. Excellent performance here.
First and foremost, I like the premise of the film. Larry (Crystal) being a writer/teacher who's ex stole his book to publish on her own, is hilarious. His reactions when someone mentions her makes it all the more funny, IMO. Owen (DeVito), a student in Larry's writing workshop, wants so eagerly for his work to be appreciated - to have a friend - that he stalks Larry, eventually roping him into a double murder scheme. The two play off each other so well and the comedy sticks.
I like how they use Hitchcock's 'Strangers on a Train' in the film to give inspiration to Owen on how to get rid of his 'Momma.' I feel cinematography of the film hasn't aged as well as some other films of the same period. For example, the runaway car scene looks slapstick in its execution. This may have been the idea, but I found it very distracting and pulled me out of the film for a bit. The ending I felt, while it suited the film, wasn't as I expected.
Overall, I found the film very entertaining. Crystal and DeVito are hilarious in their respective roles. Then again, I love a good Billy Crystal rage scene. "SLUT!!!" 😂
№ 119: "Assassin's Creed"
Director: Justin Kurzel
Screenplay: Michael Lesslie, Adam Cooper, Bill Collage
I wanted this film to be good. I've been a long time fan of the games series. That's not to say that I don't have my disagreements w/ the way they were handled, just that I'm familiar w/ the source material. I am also a fan of 90% of the cast in this film. Somewhere along the line, though, it seems the screenplay went awry, & no one seemed to catch it.
My main qualm is that it's a rehashing of the plot of the first game, set in a different time period w/ characters who aren't explored enough. If you're going to introduce new characters, actually explore who they are, give them a decent backstory, etc. Like Cal's father, for example - Why did he murder his wife? Why not take her & Cal on the run? He had enough time to murder his wife, wait for his son to come home to find her dead body, but they couldn't have escaped in this timespan? I get that he didn't want them to be used in the Animus, but they do nothing to explain his extreme methods of keeping the creed "safe." The Assassin's in the game wouldn't have done this, & it grinds my gears. The ending is sequel setup garbage, as expected.
My second major issue is w/ the sound mixing & the dialogue therein. The music during the fight scenes is loud enough that it can be heard, but it also makes both it & the sound effects an inaudible cacophony. They should have went music only or effects only, IMO. The dialogue, on the other end of the spectrum, is barely audible. Fassbender & Cotillard appear to have made a bet on set to see who could whisper the lowest without having the director call them out on it. Apparently he never did, because half my viewing experience was adjusting the audio between these two extremes.
Overall, I just wish they would have made a film of the first game if they were going to borrow it's plot elements. If you're a fan of the series, this will disappoint. If not, you may also not enjoy this for similar reasons.
№ 118: "Lucky Number Slevin"
Director: Paul McGuigan
Screenplay: Jason Smilovic
Firstly, sorry for the delay on this one. I watched 5 films last week, and just haven't had a spare minute with OT at work and family stuff to write up the reviews. They're coming, though, rest assured! 😘
This one is a mixed bag for me. I like the premise, but the execution leaves much to be desired. From the open of the film, we're introduced to Willis' character, Mr. Goodkat. He spins us a story of an 80's horse bet gone south and mob murders that follow. Following the tale, he murders the man to whom he's been talking, citing he needs a body for his plans. His plans aren't revealed until the end of the film in it's lackluster reveal.
The bulk of the plot revolves around are Harnett's character, Slevin. Caught in a case of mistaken identity at a friend's apartment by mobsters, Slevin is thrust into a gang feud going back decades. I will say that, from the moment we meet Slevin, something about him seemed off. I don't if this was intentional of just the acting, but you could tell he was shady. Where is his friend? Why is he so hesitant to call the cops as his neighbor, played by Liu, suggests? Also just seems to show a lack of caring for anything really, even his own life.
I will say that the A-List cast really helped the film for me. Seeing Freeman, Kingsley, Willis & Liu in one film was a treat. Speaking of Hartnett, where has he been? Last thing I saw him in was 'Black Hawk Down' in '01.
I thought the fight/gun choreography was good. Cinematography was also done well.
In the end, the final twist was a miss for me. It just seemed like a, 'you weren't paying attention, were you?' bit. I just wish they weren't so heavy-handed in their approach.
№ 117: "Ghost in the Shell"
Director: Rupert Sanders
Screenplay: Jamie Moss, William Wheeler, Ehren Kruger
Based On: "Ghost in the Shell" by Masamune Shirow
As many of you know, I'm a lover of all things Anime. This includes Oshii's '95 adaptation of Shirow's Manga. That being said, I implore you to not enter this film wanting a remake of the anime. The plot of the films use different pieces of the manga, which I'll go into later. To make note before I get into spoiler territory, I'll say that I really enjoyed this film. Reading reviews, I'm seeing just how much of outlying opinion that is, but I'm sticking to it.
First & foremost, just so it's known, I don't mind the casting of Johansson as Major. After seeing how they've handled her backstory, I rather like it. If you disagree, please feel free to discuss below!
The main differences between the '95 anime & this film are w/ the plot. While the anime utilizes the 'Puppet Master' AI story, this film creates an amalgamation of sorts using PM's motives/tactics mixed w/ a manga character Hideo Kuze. Kuze's motives are to bring down 'Hanka Robotics' for what they've done to him & countless others while attempting to perfect the technology that gave Major her 'shell.' He also wants to ascend into the digital realm. His methods, however, involve the killing of innocents & Section 9 is doing all they can to stop him.
There are visual nods to the anime that I enjoyed. Major being built, building dives, cloaked water fights, to name a few. Overall the visuals, CGI & cinematography are top notch. Props to the director and all the visual artists involved in this film.
As mentioned before, I enjoyed Johansson as Major. Pitt is great as Kuze. Asbæk, who reminds me of Joshua Jackson, looks great at Batou. I liked that they introduce him without his visual enhancements. Kitano, though, kills it as Chief Aramaki. Such a badass!
I recommend you give this one a view. I enjoyed it a lot. If you've seen it, let me know what you think.
№ 116: "Passengers"
Director: Morten Tyldum
Screenplay: Jon Spaihts
Okay, this one is a mixed bag for me. I'll start w/ things I enjoyed.
I felt for the most part Pratt & Lawrence do a good job as Jim & Aurora, respectively. Lawrence, when playing Aurora angry/sad is very powerful here. I felt Pratt does a good job getting across Jim's mania, loneliness & desperation after being alone for over a year. Sheen does a fantastic job as Arthur as well, IMO.
I really enjoyed the premise of our plot. Specifically I found the 120 year travel to the new planet & Jim being woken in error to be very entertaining. That's not to say I don't have qualms w/ the plot, but to say I think they started w/ a pretty solid concept.
The direction, cinematography & CGI I feel were handled well in their own respects. I really enjoyed the gravity shenanigans in the latter half of the film as the ship is losing power.
Now for a few things I didn't enjoy as much.
I don't buy that Aurora forgave Jim. He basically murders her. She's so upset after hearing the news that she almost beats him to death. If the film gave a better sense of time passing, perhaps it wouldn't have felt like such a forced shift from hating him to 'can't live without you.'
I don't understand why no one from the crew would be awake. Have a crew member wake up, take a year shift ensuring everyone's safety, & switch out for another. To that end, why would they have a cryo ship without the ability to reenter cryo? It makes zero sense that everyone would get on, go to sleep & leave the ship to its own devices for 120 years. Especially carrying 5k people. I suppose this would have made the whole movie a non-issue, though, so for plot reasons, they ignored that bit of logic.
My last qualm is the poor ending. Fade out to voice-over & show the crew walking out into overgrown vegetation & wildlife? It just felt so underwhelming. The whole film was just an epic anticlimax, highlighted by the awful credits music choice.
Overall, the film is alright. I just wish it had ended differently.
№ 115: "Captain Fantastic"
Director: Matt Ross
Screenplay: Matt Ross
I'll start by saying if you haven't seen this movie, you should. After viewing the film, I've seen so many extremely varied reviews. I'd like to have someone w/ which to discuss the film, good or bad.
I enjoyed this film. I don't agree w/ some of Ben's actions, but I feel that was the point. One scene I enjoyed is Ben, played my Mortensen, encouraging his Daughter, Kielyr, to elaborate on her opinion of the novel 'Lolita.' She goes on to describe that she hates the narrator b/c of his petafilific nature yet can't help but feel sorry for him b/c she feels his love for the girl is beautiful, making her feel conflicted. In much the way Ben encouraged his daughter to avoid summarizing the plot of the novel or using the word "interesting," I'll do so w/ my review.
I think Ben a well intentioned father. He & his 6 children are highly intelligent & resourceful, just as he's raised them. That being said, I feel his militaristic training & isolation from society has fostered an almost cult-like atmosphere. The children have grown up in this environment w/ Ben & their mother, before her mental health issues forced her to leave & seek treatment. They know only of the outside world what they read in books or learn from Ben directly & are afraid to speak against his wishes. I feel the film parallels Kielyr's view on 'Lolita' in that I can not like how Ben raises the children, yet feel sympathy for him when his father-in-law threatens to take them away after his wife's suicide. Even though the father-in-law is a voice of reason, we as the audience can't help but dislike him, which I found fascinating. This makes Ben's transition at the end of the film much more enjoyable, seeing the children finally having contact w/ society again, going to school, etc.
Like I mentioned above, I really enjoyed the film. I think all the child actors have done a phenomenal job. Powerful performances all around, IMO. Stellar cinematography and direction as well.
№ 114: "Swiss Army Man"
Directors: Daniel Scheinert, Daniel Kwan
Screenplay: Daniel Scheinert, Daniel Kwan
I think the final spoken line of the film sums up my viewing experience rather well, "What the fuck?" I'll clarify by saying that I don't think it's bad film. On the contrary, I rather enjoyed it. It's just constantly left me laughing at the absurdity of it all.
Dano brings such relatability to Hank & believability to his delusions. His performance is the true highlight of the film for me. Initially the directors wanted to make cast of Radcliffe & use the dummy in most scenes, but he insisted he actually act them out. I commend his ability to look like a dead person for what I assume were several long months of shooting. Especially once Hank starts to see Manny move & talk, Radcliffe's movements are eerie & fantastically done.
The plot of the film is very somber yet endearing. Hank, lost on an island, is about to commit suicide when he sees Manny wash ashore. Thinking he is a survivor of a similar incident, he rushes to the man, only to discover he's already dead. This is the point things start getting more surreal, when Hank escapes the island riding Manny like a Jet Ski, fueled by the corpse's flatulence. The film only gets more eccentric w/ Hank using Manny for all manner of task such as starting fires, cutting logs, a gun, etc.
I found Hank a deeply troubled character. I feel he's been this way since a young age following his mother's death. His father's dismissive attitude toward his child's obvious emotional problems have only made them worse. He's unable to form normal relationships w/ others & begins isolating himself to avoid being ridiculed for his quirks. Using Manny as a surrogate, Hank is able to talk himself through his pain & emerges at the end of the film w/ a renewed outlook on life. I feel Dano was perfect for this character. Top notch, truly.
If you haven't seen it, I recommend you give it a watch. Worst case scenario, Mary Elizabeth Winstead has a brief scene at the end. 😍
№ 113: "What We Do In The Shadows"
Directors: Taika Waititi, Jemaine Clement
Screenplay: Taika Waititi, Jemaine Clement
When I heard the directorial announcement for the upcoming Marvel Studios film, "Thor: Ragnarok," I will admit that I was unfamiliar with Taika Waititi's work. After viewing this film, the first of many I have slated from the director, He's won me over and I cannot wait to see what he does with the characters of Thor & Banner.
This film is hilarious. The whole film @chaseums0967 and I were rolling. From the flying hissing fights in which we find our leads engaged to the Vampiric rules they must abide, all the way down to the concept, they've nailed the humor. I found the use of the documentary style camera work perfect for the film. Following them on their trips to town, attempts to feed and even reconnecting with old love interests is priceless.
I love the way they show the Vampiric transformation. It made it seem truly awful to experience, with the bleeding from the eyes, bones cracking, etc.
I think one of the funniest lines to me is about how they prefer virgin blood, "I think of it like this...If you were going to eat a sandwich, you would just enjoy it more if you knew no one had fucked it." That and how Deacon pronounces Spaghetti, "Basghetti." The film also has a bittersweet plot with Viago and how he came to live in NZ, chasing the love of his life and being sent to the wrong country by his familiar by mistake.
Also Stu! I fuckin' love Stu!
If you haven't seen this film,I highly recommend it.
№ 112: "Logan"
Director: James Mangold
Screenplay: Scott Frank, James Mangold, Michael Green
If you haven't seen this movie, stop reading this and go watch it. You already risked spoiling it by clicking, "More..." GO WATCH IT!
Now that I've covered my bases, let me first say that this is, IMO, both the best film in the Fox X-Men-verse and the best possible exit for Jackman and Stewart. Both actors are just phenomenal.
Secondly, Mr. Mangold, you beautiful son of a bitch, you made me cry during an X-Men film! How dare you!
As mentioned prior, the acting here is top-notch from not only our series veterans but from our newby, Dafne Keen as Laura. She stole every scene she was in, and for her film debut, that leaves me with high hopes for her future. Jackman was a tour de force as an aged Logan, sick and unable to heal as he once did. This is in stark contrast to his portrayal of X-24 later in the film, which was equally as impressive to me.
I found the plot to be very engaging, both in concept and emotional depth. I like how it's separate enough from the muddied time lines of the past films yet still able to reference events and not feel out of place. I particularly like how Xavier and the new mutants have been handled. Charles having seizures was something that never occured to me and how it's presented in the film is terrifying.
The score, sound design and cinematography should also be applauded here. The movie looks and sounds fantastic. I also think the hair/makeup people deserve at least double what they've been paid for their work on this one.
I really enjoyed the use of the comic books in the film. Mangold actually had them custom made for the film. They're not actually any existing issue, which I thought that was neat.
If you haven't guessed it, I loved this one. I can't wait to see it again later this week.
№ 111: "Jupiter Ascending"
Director: The Wachowskis
Screenplay: The Wachowskis
First, I'll clear the way by saying I know where this film was trying to go. The problem here, is the poor execution of what was a very interesting premise. If more focus was given to fleshing out our leads, providing an avenue for organically derived exposition rather than forcing it & less focus on mind-numbing, insanely hard to follow action sequences, I might feel differently.
At the film's open, we are introduced to our lead, Jupiter Jones via voice-over. We don't actually see her on-screen until around the 10 minute mark. Rather than getting to know her, we're immediately introduced to the villains of the film, the three members of the Abrasax family. Jupiter, within the first 20 min. of the film becomes a pawn for the filmmakers to blast CGI explosions & fight scenes in our face. I'll condense the plot to the best of my ability - Jupiter is a 'reincarnation' of the recently deceased matriarch of the Abrasax family. (Aliens who rule over a larger portion of our galaxy) Once the Abrasax children learn of this, they all attempt to have her killed in roundabout ways, such as hitmen, trying to pose as her ally etc. This is all to do w/ Earth & who 'owns' it. Balem, the oldest, was given earth after his mother's passing, but Jupiter, her reincarnation, could take it back from him. The Abrasax family is in the business of making an elixir of eternal youth by harvesting all living life on planets grown for the purpose. Earth is one of these planets, giving Jupiter reason to reclaim Earth.
Like I said, it sounds like an interesting concept, it's just so boringly done w/ hollow characters & poorly filmed fight sequences. Other nitpicks include Eddie Redmayne's portrayal of Balem. His constant whispering is infuriating. Especially when the character screams & gives a jump scare simply because you could barely hear him before. I wish Tatum's character was explored more. He just seems forced, romance and all. Also, "Bees sense royalty"? Seriously?
№ 110: "American Splendor"
Director: Shari Springer Berman, Robert Pulcini
Screenplay: Shari Springer Berman, Robert Pulcini
Prior to viewing this film, I had never heard of the 'American Splendor' comics or their writer Harvey Pekar. Since watching the film, I've went back and watched several interviews he did with David Letterman, most notably his final interview. Harvey was such an unique soul and I feel they've captured his story wonderfully in this film.
First and foremost, I'd like to commend the actors here. Giamatti is mesmerizing in the role of Pekar. The voice, the mannerisms, the crazy hair and wardrobe - the man nails it. Hope Davis and Judah Friedlander are equally convincing as Joyce and Toby, respectively. Judah was utterly unrecognizable. I also enjoyed the appearances by the real life characters from Pekar's life. Having Harvey, Joyce, Toby and others for reference really solidified the performances of the actors portraying the characters.
When dealing with a story of a man who turned his life into a comic book, a play and eventually the movie which you're now writing, it's inevitable that the film will take on an almost documentary-like aspect. This is something that the film handles wonderfully. Weaving real-life interview footage, voice over from Harvey himself and the actors performance leads to an interesting mix. I also really enjoy when the film adapts a comic book feel, giving thought bubbles or angry cartoon drawings giving opinions to Giamatti's Pekar.
Overall, I really enjoyed this one. The story of Harvey's life is intriguing, to say the least. If you have a way to watch this one, I recommend it.