Archive for the ‘Movie Review’ category

Baby Driver Movie Review

July 15, 2017

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In Baby Driver, the newest film from writer/director Edgar Wright, a getaway driver played by talented newcomer Ansel Elgort, who goes by Baby, desperately tries to get out of his relationship with a crime boss (Kevin Spacey).

The film starts with a clever, well-directed introduction to our protagonist, featuring a typical morning for him getting coffee and whatnot, all expertly filmed with a nice tracking shot. One important takeaway from this scene – Baby is a genuinely cool guy.

We then get into a well-shot and well-choreographed action sequence which Wright impressively crafted using nothing but practical effects. It’s a fun scene for the audience. But Baby hopes it will be his second-to-last job ever.

We soon learn that Baby has a sad backstory involving his parents, one that also led to him developing a condition that requires him to constantly listen to music to drown out the noise in his head. Wright makes good use of this unique character trait by adding a good score that plays over pretty much every second of the film.

Another smart touch Wright adds to the movie is what appears to be an intention for the film to either take place in or at least have the feel of taking place in the 2000s decade. I can only assume he did this to add a level of timelessness to the film, or perhaps to contribute to society’s obsession with nostalgia.

Baby later meets a charming love interest named Deborah (Lily James), who doesn’t have much going on in her life other than a likely low-paying waitress job that she doesn’t seem to enjoy. The two of them have pleasant chemistry. And their romance actually adds to the plot and to Baby’s character development.

We get an entertaining, sometimes funny, and well-acted film overall. It doesn’t quite reach the highs I hoped. The story definitely felt a little basic and by the numbers at times. Although the ending went in a couple of unexpected directions, I’ll give it that.

And when all is said and done, it’s a very good movie overall, and one of the best I’ve seen so far this year. I give it an 8 out of 10.

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The Wizard of Lies HBO Review

June 29, 2017

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Oscar-winning director Barry Levinson (Rain Man) puts forth an impressive and thrilling story in this recent HBO original drama film The Wizard of Lies, which tells the true story of the aftermath of Bernie Madoff (Robert De Niro)’s infamous Ponzi scheme.

De Niro is perfectly cast as the slimy Madoff, in a role that will likely earn him an Emmy nomination (if not a win). The film introduces his character already locked in prison for his crime.

Here we see a New York Times reporter interviewing Madoff about the events surrounding his scheme. This serves as a framing device for the non-linear story which they present through flashbacks.

The story here is presented well. The film goes all out with the realism by using actual archive footage of TV journalists and comedians reporting and commenting on Madoff’s pyramid scheme.

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A little later, we get to see a bit of Madoff’s extravagant lifestyle before he got caught. We see him as the kind of person who views himself as superior to others. The thing is, at times, the film attempts to portray him as somewhat sympathetically.

It’s similar to 2015’s The Big Short where they try to portray it like he didn’t really know what he was doing and how much harm it would cause. It was effective in that film and it works pretty well here too.

Then about half-way through the film, we get a particularly emotional scene where something big happens. This scene is expertly elevated by its use of ironic music. This is easily the strongest part in the movie. Speaking of music, Levinson makes good use of an intense score coming from composers Evgueni and Sacha Galperine.

There’s a lot of powerful, well-directed, well-filmed and well-acted scenes here that make this TV film a real treat to watch. For instance, one clever scene a little later into the film uses drums to play with diegetic vs. non-diegetic music.

Overall, this movie is definitely worth seeking out if you haven’t seen it yet. It gets an 8.5 out 10 from me.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 – A Ton of Fun

May 19, 2017

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If you haven’t seen Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 yet, then what are you doing sitting here reading this? Yes, you can trust me when I say that it’s some of the most fun you’ll have at the movies all year (or at the very least all summer).

So Guardians 2 brings back our cast of unlikely heroes including the awesome Chris Pratt as Peter/Star-Lord, who it turns out has some daddy issues this time around. But lucky for him, he finally gets the chance to meet his real father, a god named Ego, played by the charismatic Kurt Russell.

Ego wants a real relationship with his son this time. But Peter is understandably skeptical about whether he can trust this guy. You can probably take a few guesses about where this story is going to go from here. But this doesn’t really take much away from the entertaining experience.

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Other than the beautifully detailed CGI, the real highlight of this film is the characters. And although one or two of the relationships could have definitely used some more development, writer/director James Gunn makes you feel for these characters and does a solid job with the themes of family and friendship. Not to mention the killer funny performances from Bradley Cooper, Vin Diesel and Dave Bautista.

And unlike what we’ll likely get with the newest Michael Bay Transformers film later this summer, this one was actually surprisingly light on overly drawn out actions sequences, which was refreshing, to say the least. Combine all of that with the heart in addition to the perfectly fitting song to end the movie on, and we get a really strong film that easily surpasses the original and may just be one of the most enjoyable MCU movies.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 gets an 8 out of 10. Go see it in theaters. Just don’t expect too much from Sylvester Stallone’s small role.

The Fundamentals of Caring Review

August 27, 2016

You know, I wasn’t originally sure if I wanted to review this movie. But after seeing that a lot of other reviews weren’t all that positive, I decided that this one could use a little more attention.

The Fundamentals of Caring premiered back in June on Netflix and stars Paul Rudd as Ben Benjamin (what an awesome name), who starts off the film by finishing a 6-week course in caregiving and then gets a job helping Trevor (Craig Roberts), a teen with muscular dystrophy.

Right off the bat, we learn that Trevor is a very enjoyable character to watch. He’s the kind of guy who doesn’t let his disability stop him from getting a little enjoyment out of life (at least to a certain extent). And by that, I mean he at least has a certain sense of humor about it. And writer/director Rob Burnett uses this to add some good comedy to the film.

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On the other hand, Trevor has let his disability control him in the sense that he lets it stop him from ever going outside and truly experiencing life. That is until Ben comes up with the idea to drive him across the country to fulfill one of Trevor’s life goals of seeing the world’s biggest hole.

From here on, we get a typical yet still very well-written indie road trip drama-comedy film. We get a lot of interesting character development with each of the main characters.  I won’t spoil it, we get some good backstories that give these characters some real depth and make them feel like real people that we can connect with.

I would actually consider this one of the better 2016 movies I’ve seen so far. And I was definitely surprised that the reception hasn’t been as good as I expected. So if it sounds like your kind of movie, I’d definitely recommend checking it out.

So I give The Fundamentals of Caring an 8 out of 10. Check the movie out here: https://www.netflix.com/search/the%20fundamentals?jbv=80097349&jbp=0&jbr=0

‘The Do-Over’ – Sandler Netflix Insanity

June 4, 2016

Adam Sandler’s The Do-Over is a really weird movie. Yeah, I didn’t exactly know what to expect going into this one considering that I knew absolutely nothing about the plot. But after watching it, I would say that it’s … average … I think?

Our protagonist here is Charlie (David Spade), an ordinary guy who hates his life. But things start to change for Charlie when he attends his high school reunion and runs into his old friend Max (Sandler). Max appears to have the life that Charlie has always wanted. So Charlie agrees to go away with Max for a weekend that soon turns into an unexpected adventure.

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It turns out, Max had a secret motive behind the duo’s weekend away. In an actually somewhat interesting and unique premise, Max’s plan was to fake both of their deaths so the two of them could both start completely new lives while taking on the identities of two recently deceased men. But without giving too much away, this quickly ends up becoming much more than they bargained for.

This scenario in the first half of this movie is enjoyable partly as a “what if?’ sort of thing. It makes you wonder what you’d do in these characters’ situations. Would you ever be willing to just completely start your life over? How bad would your life have to get before you were willing to that? And yes, I am in fact suggesting that an Adam Sandler comedy got me to think about complex and depressing issues. I’m just as surprised as you are.

That’s another problem. This movie just wasn’t really all that funny for the most part (and yes, a lot of the time, it was trying to be). The humor seemed to more revolve around the characters getting into crazy situations. And that’s not automatically going to be funny. It still has to be written in a clever way. And the comedy in this movie wasn’t really that clever.

I’m not exactly sure what to think of this movie overall. Would I recommend it? Not really. But can I at least appreciate it a little bit for its ambition? I guess. I’m giving it a 5 out of 10.

‘Kung Fury’ – Entertaining Parody Short Film

January 13, 2016

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Hey Seltzer and Friedberg, before you make your next parody film, sit down and give this one a watch. You might learn a few things.

So Kung Fury is a 2015 independent half-hour film about a cop of the same name. The purpose of this film is to parody 1980s cop movies. In fact, the film’s short runtime was probably one of the best choices the filmmakers made considering that I’m not even sure that they had enough good jokes to fill up 30 minutes, let alone an hour and a half.

Don’t get me wrong, this is definitely a funny movie, and one of the more refreshing spoof movies I’ve seen recently. But if I had one criticism to make of it, it’s that it didn’t quite reach the level of nonstop hilarity that it could have in my opinion.

But anyway, why exactly does this short film work as a parody? Well for one thing, it does a very good job at mimicking the style of these ’80s actions movies. It’s cheesy. It’s silly. And it looks like it was filmed with a potato. What more could you ask for? Actually, if you didn’t know going in, you might even think that this was an actual action film from the 1980s.

But in addition to mimicking the style of these movies, Kung Fury also does a fine job with exaggerating the tropes of ’80s action films to an absolutely absurd and at times hysterical degree. For instance, early in the film, they utilize the cliché of giving the cop a partner against his wishes. But for absolutely no reason at all, they give Kung Fury’s partner the head of a triceratops. And it’s just so dumb and random that you can’t help but laugh at it.

Kung Fury also succeeds at general comedy. Firstly, the premise itself is pretty funny. Kung Fury has to go back in time to kill Adolf Hitler as part of his mission. And I’m not entirely sure why. But I think that adds to the humor. There’s also a lot of very funny dialogue. Put all of that together, and it makes for a pretty enjoyable experience.

So overall, I give Kung Fury a 7.5 out of 10. I suggest checking this one out, either on YouTube, or here on Netflix.

‘The Ridiculous 6’ – Sandler Netflix Mediocrity

December 29, 2015

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By John D’Amico

I can’t say I really hated this film. In fact, I wouldn’t even really call it bad. Having said that, I wouldn’t be surprised if this one did well at the Razzie Awards this year. Just saying.

‘The Ridiculous 6’ is a comedy western starring Adam Sandler as Tommy aka “The White Knife,” who one day has to go on a mission to save his deadbeat father (Nick Nolte). Along the way, he meets his five half-brothers who decide to go on the mission along with him.

One of the first things that struck me about this movie was how seriously it was taking itself in the first fourth of the plot. The amount of jokes in this portion of the movie were pretty minimal. At the same time, it didn’t feel like the it was going for straight-up drama either because of the typical Sandler-esque humor sprinkled throughout. I’m not even sure if I’d necessarily call this a bad thing. But it just kind of left me scratching my head.

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But in spite of this peculiar start, the rest of movie is pretty much the comedy that I expected going in. So how was the comedy you might be wondering? Well, it could have been better to be honest. We get some annoying characters like Taylor Lautner as one of Tommy’s half-brothers, some disturbing humor like an accidental decapitation, and some gross-out comedy that I’d prefer not to describe.

But sprinkled throughout the film, there definitely were some jokes that got some genuine laughs out of me. For instance, shortly after the introduction of Terry Crews’ character Chico (one of Tommy’s brothers), Chico makes the decision to confess to his newly found half-brothers that he is in fact a black man.

There’s also a really clever scene where the brothers meet Civil War general Abner Doubleday (played by John Turturro), and take part of the first ever game of baseball. And just for the record, Doubleday didn’t really invent the game, but I’m willing to let that slide considering how well-written this scene was.

Overall, ‘The Ridiculous 6’ wasn’t a bad movie in my opinion. But I didn’t really like it either. It was just kind of meh. I give a 5.5 out of 10.

If you’re interested, you can stream the film here.


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