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Monday, July 2, 2018

Review: Tomb Raider (2018)

* *

Director: Roar Uthaug
Starring: Alicia Vikander

File this one under "Movies You've Already Forgotten About, Even Though They Only Came Out A Few Months Ago," and with good reason. Tomb Raider is a forgettable adventure movie that forgets the key thing that tends to make adventure movies successful - it's not very much fun. This is a movie with a plot that centers on a giant tomb that is full of elaborate puzzles that need to be solved in order for the players to survive and it somehow manages to be mostly boring. It never had to be great, it never had to be groundbreaking, it didn't even need to stray too far from its video game origins, but it needed to be entertaining and, save for a moment or two scattered throughout, it fails. It is, at least, better than last year's tomb raiding movie The Mummy, but if you've seen The Mummy then you know that that's pretty faint praise.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

25 Thoughts About Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018)


Director: J.A. Bayona
Starring: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard

I'm not even going to bother rating this. It's a bad, dumb movie. But I expected it to be bad and dumb so I was able to have fun with it while I watching it, thus I have no regrets and was mostly entertained (though some scenes so completely beggar suspension of disbelief that it took me out of the movie entirely). I wouldn't "recommend" it, per se, because it's not even remotely well-crafted on narrative and character levels, being full of plot holes, characters acting stupid solely to advance the plot, and things that just plain make no sense; but if all you want to see is dinosaurs wrecking havoc, then you might be satisfied by Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom because there's lots of that in here. My thoughts on the latest in the Jurassic series (be warned: lots of spoilers):

Monday, June 18, 2018

Review: Ocean's 8 (2018)

* * *

Director: Gary Ross
Starring: Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway, Helena Bonham Carter, Rihanna, Sarah Paulson, Mindy Kaling, Awkwafina

"Why do you need to do this?" "Because it's what I'm good at." Sometimes that's all the justification you need. Did the world need another Ocean's movie? Probably not. I mean, one could reasonably argue that there didn't really need to be three in the first place. But movies like Ocean's 8 don't exist to address a need any more than the candy available at the concession does. These things exist because sometimes you just want a treat, something that has no nutritional value but gives you a bit of a sugar rush. Ocean's 8 is a lot of fun. It might not be striving for greatness, but it delivers pretty much exactly what it promises and its mix of charismatic stars, glamour, comedy and adventure makes for a perfect summer entertainment.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Review: Disobedience (2018)

* * *

Director: Sebastian Lelio
Starring: Rachel Weisz, Rachel McAdams, Alessandro Nivola

The promotional materials for Disobedience heavily emphasize the relationship between the characters played by Rachel Weisz and Rachel McAdams. While that relationship is most certainly a key element of the story, it isn't really what the film is about, but I suppose it's easier to sell a tale of forbidden love than it is a story about people living in a strict religious community being faced with the choice of adhering to the limiting confines of the religions teachings or being expelled entirely. Adapted from the novel of the same name by Naomi Alderman and directed by Sebastian Lelio (whose A Fantastic Woman won this year's Best Foreign Language Film Oscar), Disobedience is a carefully observed film about the struggle between the desire to be and the desire to belong and features great performances by its two Rachels.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Review: Deadpool 2 (2018)

* * *

Director: David Leitch
Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Josh Brolin

Part of the charm of Deadpool was its inherent shabbiness. Made on a shoestring budget (at least by the standards of superhero/action movies), Deadpool turned its discount elements into a strength by making it part of the joke. Deadpool 2 has the benefit of having about twice the budget as its predecessor, which gives it a lot more flash in terms of its action pieces, but it still manages to maintain that industrial and minimalist aesthetic of the first. It adheres to the principle of movie sequels to "do the same thing, but more," but it manages to stay relatively true to its roots at the same time, which is surely no easy feat. Deadpool 2 is the equal to its original, better in certain respects but not quite as good in others, and certainly worth the price of admission.