Despicable Me 3 Review

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Acting ⭐⭐⭐
Build ⭐1/2
Writing:⭐⭐⭐1/4
Characters ⭐⭐3/4
Visuals: ⭐⭐⭐1/2

The Despicable Me franchise has always had it’s childish slapstick embedded into a story and it has usually worked. With Despicable Me 3, it is used as the crux and has it’s hits and misses. Because of that, Despicable me has some laughs and insightful moments, but can never fully develop them.

The story: Gru (Steve Carrell) who discovers he has a twin brother called Stu. They work together as criminals to try and take a diamond that was stolen by Balthazar Bratt (Trey Parker) who is using that diamond to create a monster to destroy the world.

Illumination Entertainment knows you like the Minions so they are going to give it to you. There is a ton of kids slapstick humor with the Minions that kids will enjoy. I did not mind either until they kept doing Minion gags for what felt like forever. Eventually, I started to lose interest in the comedy as I felt it was getting stale.

After the entire first act of wacky comedy do we finally start to develop characters and eventually the plot. They try to develop characters such as Gru’s insecurities and Agnes (Gru’s youngest adoptive daughter) supposed loss of innocence but never works as well as it could have. I feel that’s because they spent so much time on action and comedic sequences that the story inadvertently falls by the wayside.

While Despicable Me 3 is a decent movie it plays so frustratingly safe that I have become somewhat disappointed in the franchise. The reason I am disappointed is that I know they can make great movies like the original. The original balanced the tones between action, comedy and drama perfectly. By the thrid time around it seems to have lost some of the substances by creating too much tiresome slapstick and little action or drama to counterbalance it ⭐⭐3/4

The Mummy: Dead on Arrival

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Acting ⭐1/2
Build ⭐⭐
Writing ⛧⛧
Characters ⭐3/4
Visuals ⭐⭐1/2

Creating Universes are now a trend in movie industry now more than ever and Universal have responded badly to the changing trend. The Mummy, the first movie of the “Dark Universe” franchise Universal have made and it’s like watching paint dry. It is so boring that Tom Cruise couldn’t save it. If an energetic Tom Cruise can’t save it, that’s all you need to know about how bad The Mummy was.

Tom Cruise plays a soldier stealing ancient artifacts and selling them for profit. When he gets involved in a conflict zone, he finds an underground temple that awakens Ahmanet (Sofia Boutella) and Cruise has to stop her from creating her new world order.

That is the jist of the plot, though The Mummy makes it feel needlessly complicated. To be fair on the movie’s part, there are two action scenes that were good and the CGI is not too terrible. While in any movie, that is not a pass mark, it is certainly a redeemable film if I can easily spot some redeeming qualities.

What redeeming qualitys The Mummy had however vwas swallowed up in a sea of bland boring badness. There are many bad things about The Mummy but I will limit it to two major components which are the tedious dialogue and the zany genre shifting that never gels together nor works on their own.

The writing is terrible in ways that make me wonder if the six writers ever proofread what they were writing. The writing is a flood of expository dialogue that is never interesting. This is due to The Mummy needing to “build the franchise”.

The expository dialogue is either narration, expositions of mythology or lazy writing to get out plot holes. Russel Crowe must have been bewildered with the amount of dialogue he had to read for his role. Eventually, The Mummy stopped becoming a film and more about an audiobook on ancient Egyptian mythology narrated by Russel Crowe.

Beyond the bad writing, The Mummy also loves to shift between genres like horror and action-comedy whenever it wants to without it ever feeling like a smooth transition. This did not matter much as the horror scenes were not scary, the comedy was not funny and the action only mildly thrilling. The only good scenes are when Tom Cruise gets to be Tom Cruise (which is about two or three sequences). Trust me, you will know what those are because they will stand out from the 120 other minutes of nothing.

The Mummy is the worst kind of franchise building that you could imagine. It’s the kind where they introduce characters and have limited depth to them for which they will be revealed in subsequent films. It also feels like a stopgap for other subsequent movies and this is the first in the franchise. The Mummy is unusually bad. ⭐1/4

Baywatch: In Name Only

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Zack Efron and Dwayne Johnson’s physiques are emblematic of Baywatch the movie: All strength and no stamina. Every actor’s talents were wasted by the actors playing themselves or stock characters. Baywatch might have gotten away with it if it was at least funny.

Admittedly, I did laugh twice. But twice in the span of 116 minutes is quite a thin spread. Baywatch is in name only as it’s less of a movie about lifeguards on the beach as it is a buddy cop movie. It kept reminding me of a far lesser grade of Beverly Hills Cop. Or if that’s too archaic of a reference, it more like a lesser grade 21 Jump Street.

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I expected Johnson and Efron to interduce themselves as Axel Foley and Sgt. Tagget. Only 80’s movie fans will get that joke.

The story follows a two-time olympic gold medalist Mike (Zac Efron). Mike has fallen from grace as he vomited into a swimming pool competing for this thrid gold medal. Mitch Buchannon (Dwayne Johnson) is the head lifeguard at Baywatch and both have to investigate a drug ring that is smuggling flakka on the shores of Baywatch.

You may wonder why lifeguards, not the police, are investigating and planning a potential drug bust. I saw the movie and I am still wondering why. It has too many tonal shifts between beach comedy and drama and action comedy and drama. It eventually settles with criminal espionage with lifeguards instead of cops none of which is particularly funny or thrilling.

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Where the gags go in Baywatch: In the bin and recycled again and again.

There are gags in Baywatch that constantly repeat, making me want them to move on. There is one where they constantly reference that hot people run in slow motion and another string of gags where lifeguards name Efron’s character different teen-bop artists. While not particularly funny, at least there is variety in the name calling with the various punchlines. He was called “Justin Bieber” “NSNYC” New Kid on the Block” and various other names. Those gags got tiring quickly and the movie constantly rehashed the same joke.

There were also scenes that were a complete waste too as they added nothing to the story. There were entire scenes which you could take out and the movie would have made just as much sense. Why they made an entire scene with David Hasselhoff instead of a quick cameo appearance with Pamela Anderson I have no idea. Why Efron did a complete obstacle course that had nothing to do with the lifeguard recruitment process I also have no idea.

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“Baywatch works because we follow rules” HAHAHAHAHA!

Overall, I believe that Baywatch is so long because all the actors have to get all their shit in while constantly running out of steam by flip-flopping between genres and locations. It also looked like the editor forgot his scissors on he day at work as pointless scenes made the final cut and made the movie 116 minutes long. Because of this, I highly doubt the filmmakers had a solid idea for the movie before they started filmmaking. ⭐3/4

PS: Baywatch has the fakest CGI fire I have ever seen. I have seen Zack Snyder films with more convincing CGI.

Wonder Woman- FINALLY!

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After three movies in their cinematic universe, DC have finally got a firm step in the right direction with Wonder Woman. Prior to Wonder Woman, I felt that DC movie had a vision of what they wanted, they just did a bad job executing it. Now, with Wonder Woman it looks like they have realized that vision. I got what they were going after but now I am starting to like it.

Set in the time of the First World War, Gal Gadot plays Wonder Woman- Known as Diana and raised on a secluded island of female Amazons- who sees a pilot (Chris Pine) who crashed his plane next to the island, fleeing from German forces. After the pilot tells his story of escape, Wonder Woman believes that Aries, the God of War, is the instigator of the war and seeks out to defeat him.

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The island Wonder Woman inhabits during the first act. Well shot, looks luscious.

Yes, it took me awhile for me to program the fact that an ancient God instigated a war, but in the mind of Wonder Women, that’s her belief as she was a sheltered child who knows nothing about the outside world. This film is aware of her naiveté but I’m glad the movie never makes her look dumb and stupid. Chris Pine, does a great job of reacting to her flaws, generating both light-hearted humor and drama without being too condescending to her. He does a great job here is an underrated actor.

Wonder Woman has taken all the good of previous DC movies and pushed away a lot of the bad from DC movies. It has the darkness of Batman vs Superman minus the murkiness. Wonder Woman incorporates mild doses of humor to compliment the dark tone of the material whereas Suicide Squad did it so erratically.

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One of the minor problems in the movie is the sword. It a payoff that ultimately does not happen for its purpose.

Adding from that, Wonder Woman has told a story which never feels confusing or lost in the making of the film. In the combination of both the balance in tone and creating a simple story that never feels confusing, DC have made a good film. Six months ago, that thought would have never entered my head.

I don’t see Wonder Woman as the breakout movie for DC that will immediately turn heads, but I see Wonder Woman as the starting block. Even though it was an entertaining film, I still think there is a better film from DC that has not been made yet. It is certainly a firm step in the right direction ⭐⭐⭐3/4

Pirates 5: A Bloated Mess

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Pirates of the Caribbean 5 it a film that is unashamed of what it is. It is a bloated mess from beginning to end. It also waves the middle finger by giving a corpulent wave of unrealised stories that was rushed into the movie before being swallowed up by the gigantic machine of a big Hollywood blockbuster.

I say that Pirates of the Caribbean is unashamed of it grandeur because, near the beginning, Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) and his crew rob a bank in front of the public. I mean “rob a bank” literally as in they stole the building and dragged it throughout town via a stream of horses pulling it around like a caravan on a joyride. The movie shows it’s bloated production from the get go.

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That is a bank being pulled by horses with an intoxicated Jack Sparrow on the roof.

In the very beginning of Dead Man Tell No Tales, we do get the main plot (thank God) in which Henry Turner (Brendon Thwaites) is trying to locate the Trident of Poseidon to undo the curse of his father Will Turner (Orlando Bloom). If you do want to see this film, just remember that premise to keep in check as the movie gets swallowed up by subplot after subplot and CGI “extravaganza” after CGI “extravaganza”. After an inundation of overstuffed special effects and convoluted storytelling, I was bored and exhausted after watching “stuff” on the screen.

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A CGI shark. If only it would say “Hello, my name is Bruce”

At least the last two movies of the Pirates franchise has gone noticeably shorter in length, however, with bad pacing it made Dead Man Tell No Tales feels just as long as At World’s End even though Dead Man Tell No Tales is nearly 40 minutes shorter.

Another reason Dead Men Tell No Tales feels so long is that the movie has got nothing interesting to say and only one 45 second guillotine sequence to boot. At least Batman vs. Superman had a couple of well-choreographed action set pieces.

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I admit, the guillotine sequence was unexpected and quite clever.

The faintest praise I am going to give this movie is that it does not sink to the levels or the previous movie On Stranger Tides but not by much. I hate to say this but Dead Man Tells No Tales is an improvement on its predecessor simply because I didn’t descend to apathy as quickly. It’s like Dead Men Tell Not Tales refined On Stranger Tides which is slightly less bad.

They literally had the jumping of a super fake CGI shark which might have been self-referential to the franchise. It would be poetic had it not been so sad that one of the most original (and particular) franchise has slowly turned into a generically dull franchise in the last fourteen years. ⭐1/2

John Wick Chapter 2: A Hit and Miss

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This is what happens when you say “I crush and microwave my Weet-B  ix”

The good: The creative action sequences in the second half
The in-between: The supporting cast, the story (it coherent and makes sense)
The bad: The numbing and boring action sequences in the first half

I am surprised that many critics thought that John Wick Chapter 2 was completely innovative. I think it is innovative… in the second half. Mostly I was mildly interested, sometimes I was bored in the first half of the movie. As a matter of fact, a lot of the movie is completely generic.

The plot is that John Wick (Keanu Reeves) a retired hitman is brought back in the game reluctantly by a secret assassin society. The gangster that hires him Santino D’Antonio (Riccardo Scamarcio), wants Wick to kill his sister in Rome to consolidate power in the society.

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Ian Mcshane plays Winston who I like to call “Da Boss”. I like his delivary when he says “excommunicado”

In the beginning of John Wick Chapter 2 John Wick is gets run over by evil henchmen three times and there were so much gunfire and murder. As a story I ask myself “Structurally, how is John Wick going to top this opening because I am pretty desensitized to this point” they do top it admittedly it was quite clever how it was executed.

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This “Hall of Mirrors” scene looks and is pretty cool. Well shot and choreographed.

I counted and there were about six moments that were actually cool. That’s a good number however nearly all of them were condensed in the climax meaning the first 90 minutes were a medicore affair. John Wick Chapter Two plays it’s hand in the final act. There are two action sequences. One of them is in the subway station both. The other one takes place inside a hall of mirrors. They both scenes that were both thrilling and inventive. Both are gimmicks that have been used before in movies but they have not worn out it’s welcome.

What has worn out its welcome in action movies are two things

1. The protagonist having 100% accuracy with a gun and
2. The arm bar.

 

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John Wick (and Mike Banning) never gets this notification. Lock-on is the equivalent of steroids in the bodybuilding world.

The “Man who never misses when firing his gun” cliche reduces action movies in a risk-free killing spree making it hard to care for John Wick’s fate since I believe he is not in any sense of danger.

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Now this is an arm bar

The arm bar to me has become a recent crutch in action movie. It’s like depending on swearing for a joke to be funny in a comedy. It’s been overused recently because people are now into Mixed Martial Arts. I have gotten tired of it. If someone is going to apply and armbar, I actually hope someone would actually break hyperextend or even break the arm for the sake of variety.

All the action in the first half of John Wick is a combination of those two boring and repetitive things. Oh and Wick gets run over by several cars. He has legs of steel.

I would argue that John Wick Chapter 2 were two separate movies. The first half I was deprived off anything that was interesting the story fell like a cheap knock-off of The Godfather. The second half consists of the John Wick Chapter 2 I wanted to see. It’s no great action movie Casino Royale or Face/Off but it sure isn’t as cartoonish and self-serving of a bad action movie like xXx: The Return of Xander Cage. ⭐⭐3/4

Alien Covenant: A nice addition to the Franchise

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What works in Alien: Covenant: Production design, slash sequences, establishment of characters and cinematography

What was ok: Dialogue and story,

What sucked: The majority of the third act making no sense (in my mind) and some leaps in internal logic.

Alien: Covenant is a film that I think gets the thousand little things right and the 2 or 3 big things wrong. However, there is strength in numbers and because it got a lot right Alian: Covenant turns out to be quite enjoyable.

I think that Alien: Covenant will satisfy a lot of fans as it sticks to the anesthetics that made it memorable and it does not move anywhere near outside its comfort zone. If you are not a fan of space, science fiction or aliens spawning out of the flesh of a human than you have come to the wrong place.

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Chuck Norris incubates and breeds neomorphs for breakfast. I don’t want to take up the hobby. 

Alien: Covenant exposes the sadistic part of me that show the art in gruesome scary sequences. It’s one of the few films that shows the viscera of life and death without descending into shock value. The filmmakers establish the world beautifully and give believable motives as to why the crew investigates a specific planet before the gore begins which is the major selling point of Alien: Covenant.

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Very menacing but it had a MAJOR momentary editing issue. He is in one location then goes to another without any explanation as to how it got from point A to B.

The other thing I was mostly pleased at was the establishment of characters. This was an ensemble and they were uniquely presented making me interested in each of the characters. They all have their quirks, Walter/David (Michael Fassbender) for example has the intelligence and has a “creative” hobby. How they develop some of the key characters is a little rocky but at least it’s not terrible.

The two or three major problems I have with Alien:Covenant descends into massive spoiler territory but to sum it up: It didn’t make a lot of sense to me. Things happen in which people (or things) appear when it’s impossible to be where they are and have been given no explanation as to why. That includes the ending, which was also completely predictable if have ever seen a horror movie in your life. Had those moments make a lick of sense, Alien Covenant would have made for a much better film.

Still, I liked this movie because of the majority of Alien: Covenant works as passable entertainment. I see it not as a standout of the franchise but it does hold a place in it. ⭐⭐⭐1/4

A Dog’s Purpose: It’s Ends :) It’s means :-|

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A Dog’s Purpose is a movie that asks the question “Does the ends justify the means?” that is because A Dog’s Purpose aims what is sets out to achieve: To make people cry. How it’s achieved is somewhat force-fed. Nevertheless, it sort-of worked.

The story is about a dog (voiced by Josh Gad) finding his reason for living and he reincarnates into other dogs when he (sometimes “she”) dies and gathers little life lessons along the way.

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I like sugar just not by itself. A Dog’s Purpose is sugar. At least it’s not shit.

A Dog’s Purpose is the equivalent of a kid constantly cheating to win a game in which he succeeds in doing. It’s a TV movie mixed with Marley and Me. A Dog’s Purpose was straining my emotional investment by using its surgery sweetness and fabricated charm to manipulate me into believing this film is amazing.

For instance, they re-recycled some of the oldest heart-pulling tricks imaginable in the movie For sad scenes, they either prolong the death with music drenched in melancholy or they show the owner in emotional pain while the music is drenched in melancholy.

For happy scenes, it shows the dog gleefully galloping up the hills of the farm to which there is a sunset glistening on the horizon. Or the dog falls in love with a bigger dog which coincided with a romantic relationship between the owners. This movie was so insanely predictable I was surprised that the audience around me was surprised when the various payoffs occur.

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This scene with Dennis Quaid was one of the few scenes I really liked

Nevertheless, the movie sort of works because I was feeling the effects. I have a dog and that probably made me empathize with the movie more, yet I was not fully into its shameless ways of getting me to care. In that sense, A Dog’s Purpose reminded me of the disastrous saccharine that was Mother’s Day but admittedly, A Dog’s Purpose is miles better than Mother’s Day simply because it achieves what it sets out to achieve: To make viewers cry.

So again, I asked myself the question “Does the ends justify its means?”

My answer is “not really”. I always believed in a movie that the ending itself does not matter but how the movie gets to the ending and how well executed the ending is.

Although points do go to the innocent intentions of the movie and it does try to send a positive message without being in any way shocking, sarcastic, ironic or overly negative. I actually somewhat appreciate it’s willingness and defiance to tell the story how they like it. I may not agree with it, but I harbor no animosity for it like I would for a bad movie. ⭐⭐

P.S. I don’t care about the story of supposed animal cruelty angle TMZ showed. This review has nothing to do with it. PETA fell for that news story. TMZ deliberately misrepresented the story for a rating. They succeeded but do their ends justify their means?

Get Out: A New Twist in Horror

Get Out is a rare cinematic treat. It is one of the most daring films that I have seen and it’s a masterpiece that I have understood but not fully processed. Pushing the boundaries is an understatement for this movie. I can guarantee you, the reader, that Get Out is unlike any other horror film you have seen.

Get Out is one of the very few movies where I was trying to deconstruct it in my head, yearning to get to the core of the movie’s concepts. Normally, I either understand the movie or I don’t. Get Out manages to become a film that explores social commentary on race relations from a perspective I haven’t seen before. It succeeds in finding that very tricky balance of horror, comedy and social commentary.

The plot: Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) and Rose (Allison Williams) are a young romantic couple and are going to meet Rose’s parents. Chris is worried that Rose’s parents (who are white) won’t accept Chris because he is black. When Chris meets Rose’s parents, they accept him because he is black.

Make no mistake, Get Out is a horror movie. Get Out follows the conventions of a horror movie with set-ups, tension, suspense, the villain with the evil and messed-up motive and the resolution. But how the movie executes these elements is something that is unquestionably unique and, in my opinion, quite extraordinary.

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Never have such uncontroversal statements said by these Whitford and Keener feel so controversal

Rarely does a horror movie build suspense and tension through dialogue that’s unsettling but never disturbing. With all the commentary on black people, I would argue that Get Out is never a racist film, but builds the tension by constantly teetering on the brink by going way too far into the opposite direction of ignorance. It’s done by the family being over complimentary about Chris for his “talents” that “inherited” from being black. I used quotation marks here because it’s from the perspective of the majority of the characters. Those passages of dialogue were so great because of it.

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This ensemble was something special. My third favourite movie ensemble since I started writing reviews

The other thing that was so great was the acting from the whole cast as they give it replay value for me. I would like to watch it again, knowing what I know now after seeing the movie I would love to see the subtleties in the performances of Catherine Keener as the mother (who was so amazing) Bradley Whitford who was the father and especially Allison Williams (Chris’ girlfriend). There were also incredibly freaky performances played by Marcus Henderson and Betty Gabriel who play housekeepers. There were also performances by Get Out is not a movie that needs to be seen twice to understand it, however, I think I will gain a new perspective on the performances having seen the movie.

If you are remotely into horror I think that Get Out is one of those films that pulls itself away from the rest of the pack. It is both an intense and a thinking kind of movie which gave Get Out a weird sense of an indescribable (and somewhat odd) cathartic release. ⭐⭐⭐⭐3/4

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2- Refines the Original

I am going to be one of the few critics to say that Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 improves upon it’s predecessor Guardians of the Galaxy. I did like the first one but not as much as most people did so my standards were a little bit lower but still, I like it when I feel a sequel improves upon the original.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 feels like a refined version of Guardians of the Galaxy. The basic concepts are the same. They are still the five superheroes working as a team working towards defeating an enemy who aims to overcome a villain. What made me smile was how clever I thought Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 executed it.

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I’m glad they used Groot in the story he was funny and was a contributing factor in the story. I was worried that the only reason he was in the movie was to sell toys.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 has two small changes from the original that enhanced my experience of it dramatically. Both of them involved making logical, important character developments in the narrative. Add in a bit of restraint of humor in the script and that’s it.

A Better Script helps make a Better Movie

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A well-written script is a delight to see and great to hear

One of my main complaints in the original Guardians of the Galaxy was that they used humor in climatic battles to patronize their villains which lost a dramatic edge in a fight sequence that I felt was needed. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind Peter Quell (Chris Pratt) or Rocky (Bradley Cooper) telling jokes (like telling a guard to change his self-proclaimed name from “Taserface” into something like “Scrotumhead”) but I don’t like it all the time. In Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2. there was joke-restraint in climatic scenes and I believed in moments which they suggested the Guardians or the villain were going to lose (or win) a fight. I invested a lot more in the climatic battles simply because the movie aimed to be more serious about it.

The Supporting Actors that made this Movie Great

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Kurt Russel and Michael Hooker are Gods half-metaphorically speaking 😉

There are two little (but significant) character developments in the movie. One of which is about Ego (Kurt Russel) and the other which was about Yondu (Michael Rooker). What you get to know about these two characters is a major part of the story’s development and I didn’t expect it to have been executed any better. When the movie fully fleshes out those two characters, it hightened my interest even more and brought the movie up several notches.

Other mish mash (The Movie Review’s B-Sides)

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The Taserface of the review: Worth mentioning but not worth devoting entire paragraphs to.

 

Despite the fact I think Guardians of the Galexy Vol.2 was better than the original, there were a couple of minor misteps and observations that I feel are worthy of note that I will give three of them out in bullet form.

1. The soundtrack was more on-the-nose with their songtitles which was a bit eyerolling. At least they fit the movie’s tone more than the original

2. The movie does a complete character change to Drax (Dave Bautista) from being somewhat menicing and having austistic tendancies to just being completly goofy. It was weird.

3. I felt the resolution was a little overdone and I’ll just kept it at that.

Beyond that, this is more-or-less the same movie as the original Guardians of the Galaxy so if you liked the original I think you will like this. It probably won’t convert people who already didn’t like the original though.

Thank God Marvel exists. They are not perfect (cough X-Men Apocalypse cough) but they have a good track record of making big blockbuster movies that work. They don’t make me think their movies are mearly technical excercises that end up feeling like a monetary landfill. This was fun and appealing to watch. ****1/4