Review : Rampage

Rampage-poster-1

“When three different animals become infected with a dangerous pathogen, a primatologist and a geneticist team up to stop them from destroying Chicago.”

When I first heard they were going to make this movie, my first thought was, but why? And now that I’ve seen it, I still don’t know. This movie, for those who don’t know, is based on a classic arcade game of the same title, involving some giant animals and a lot of destruction. If we’re being honest though, this movie was really made on the large shoulders of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, and made for him. The real point of this movie is to use him, as a tool to make some bank, and its honestly pretty apparent, because this movie is absolutely ridiculous. Like, as ridiculous as it gets really. Every time something happens, every time a decision is made, anything a plot point is moved forward, there is almost no reasonable explanation for why anything goes the way it does, and how, but, what did I really expect. This is really the definition of a “popcorn” movie. One of those movies where you’re meant to just turn off your brain, eat all the snacks, and laugh at the jokes. And honestly, you could do that, but if thats not who you are, or not what you want to be about, you’re going to be sitting in this movie thinking to yourself, who made this, why they made it, and how they convinced some of the actors in it, to be in it. All in all, Rampage is just an over the top, balls out, brain off kind of movie that can only I think really be enjoyed by certain kinds of people.

Review Score : 4 out of 10

Advertisements

Review : A Quiet Place

“A family is forced to live in silence while hiding from creatures that hunt by sound.”

A Quiet Place not only stars John Krasinki, but is directed by him also as he acts alongside Emily Blunt, and the very talented Regan and Marcus Abbott. It’s seems almost ironic that there is so much to say about a film that has hardly any spoken lines but if any movie right now deserves to be talked about, it’s this one. This movie does so many things right, and honestly, it doesn’t really do anything wrong. When I was in school, I was once given a project to make a short film, that was silent, no sound at all. It’s one of those things designed to teach you about visual storytelling, the main principle of which is, don’t say, show. Taking a concept like that, and ramping it up to the max, A Quiet Place, places most of its storytelling, character development, and emotional evolution in the hands of visual storytelling. It’s uses ambient sound to a masterful degree, while always keeping its eye on colour, framing, and pacing. This movie is a brisk 90 minutes, and that’s because there is not a drop on fat on it, allowing it to not waste a single frame or moment. When you add in the handicap of not having any real verbal or audible exposition, this movie is forced almost to use every inch of screen, to further that story. The cast here is small, really just 4 people, but they are all fantastic, and they are able to deliver a real emotional heft, without nearly a word being uttered. The movie also uses sound and the lack there of when necessary, to keep a level of tension, that is so high strung, for most of this movie you will be unable to look away for fear of missing something. Ever so often, there is s movie like A Quiet Place. Made for only 17 million, already more than clearing its profit targets, while also genuinely delivering a real go to the cinema worthwhile experience. This is a small movie in its scale, but it’s massive in its ambition, and it easily checks every box of film making. All in all, A Quiet Place is a fantastic sci-fi, horror, thriller, amazing ride that hooks you from the first frame, to the last. Movies like this are what people go to the cinema for, and I hope it makes all the money in the world.

Review Score : 9.5 out of 10

Review : Pacific Rim – Uprising

pacific-rim-2-movie-poster

“Jake Pentecost, son of Stacker Pentecost, reunites with Mako Mori to lead a new generation of Jaeger pilots, including rival Lambert and 15-year-old hacker Amara, against a new Kaiju threat.”

This movie thought me two things. 1 this movie being set 10 year ahead of the original Pacific Rim meant they could basically set it in an entirely new universe. And 2, that the technology definitely now exist to make a fully actualised live-action Evangelion movie. This movie sets son of Idris Elba’s Stacker Pentecost, Jake Pentecost, played by John Boyega, as the title character in this post monster war world as he slowly finds his way back to being the kind of hero his father was. We get a return from about half the original cast here, and some of them are used in ways I can honestly say I didn’t see coming, but those weren’t the only surprises in this movie. The biggest surprise here, is actually a fear I had going into this movie, and that was the tone. Now to some people, this might be something they prefer, but to me, a fan of the first movie, and the tone they set there, seeing them go in the complete opposite direction is a bit jarring. This movie went from Hellboy with giant robots, to a Saturday morning Evangelion cartoon. I think if you’re coming to this movie without seeing the original, you can have a lot of fun with this movie, but if you’re a fan of the first, I think this is going to disappoint you, as it did me. Boyega is great as his character, but it feels like he’s surrounded with a cast than can hardly help him raise the pedigree of this movie. They are most all fine actors, but so many of them are more associated with “B” level movies, when this movie clearly wants to be a “A” level movie, but only based off the pedigree of its predecessor. All in all, Pacific Rim Uprising is one of those movies that if you don’t take seriously, can be good fun, but if you want anything even a little bit deeper, you’re not going to find it here.

Review Score: 5 out of 10

Review : Tomb Raider

“Lara Croft, the fiercely independent daughter of a missing adventurer, must push herself beyond her limits when she finds herself on the island where her father disappeared.”

The 2018 version of this classic, and more recently rebooted video game stars Alicia Vikander this time around and is based much more off of that recent reboot. Bringing a much more stripped back, and a much more down to earth and gritty representation of the Lara Croft character and mythology. Alicia Vikander is an amazing dramatic actor, and she brings a real grounding and gravitas to the character, which I think is a welcome change from the over the top, larger than life aura given off by the Angelina Jolie version of the character. In the same way, this movie as a whole is much more toned down, and brings a lot of that grit and platforming as the newer iterations of the games. I think that’s the real moral of this story, it’s what you expect from a movie like this, just maybe a little bit better. It’s very much your average, run of the mill, mid level action movie, just bumped up slightly by the likes of Vikander and some of the supporting cast. And this really is Vikander’s movie, start to finish, and she does her best to elevate it when and where she can, it’s just wasn’t at her disposal to make this from an average movie, to something greater. All in all, Tomb Raider is probably exactly what you expect it to be, and if you go in with minimal expectations, you can definitely have some fun with it, just don’t expect to be blown away here.

Review Score : 6.5 out of 10

Review : Red Sparrow

“Ballerina Dominika Egorova is recruited to ‘Sparrow School,’ a Russian intelligence service where she is forced to use her body as a weapon. Her first mission, targeting a C.I.A. agent, threatens to unravel the security of both nations.”

So all the coloured animal name comparisons aside, there is something intriguing about the almost stereotyped role now of the Russian femme fatale, which is exactly what Jennifer Lawrence is meant to be in Red Sparrow. She’s beautiful, she’s sexy, she’s dangerous, all are true, but none are anything we haven’t seen before. The way Red Sparrow seeks to differentiate itself is with the serious nature in which it handles Its subject matter. Sexual coercion, mental manipulation, brutal torture, cold blooded murder, these are all tools of the spy trade, and more so tools for story telling in this movie. They never shy away from going there with characters and they never shy away from showing you it. There is a story here too, and it’s as twisting and turning as you’d expect. This is where Lawrence and her cast mates do their best also, a lot of the acting is very subtle and simply hints at the deeper narratives than being to overt. It does fall victim to one of the biggest tropes used in movies like these, but to be fair, it’s sets it up more competently than many of its counterparts. I think however the ultimate failing of this movie, is that it really lacks memorability. When things happen it’s a nice moment, but they’re aren’t any that you would remember after leaving the cinema really. Even during the movie, there were parts that I had already forgotten happened in this movie, just 30 minutes earlier. So even with the good that there is here, the movie as a whole feels flat, and maybe a bit soulless. This movie also does that thing were it makes its characters outside the main caste feel like amateurs at their jobs, which can be really frustrating. All in all, if you’re a fan of espionage thrillers, there is enjoyment to be found in Red Sparrow, but if your just looking for a movie to catch for the evening, you might want something a little more fun.

Review Score : 6.5 out of 10

Review : Black Panther

“T’Challa, the King of Wakanda, rises to the throne in the isolated, technologically advanced African nation, but his claim is challenged by a vengeful outsider who was a childhood victim of T’Challa’s father’s mistake.”

At this point, Black Panther has done something not many movies can claim, and it’s not all the money it’s making, it’s that it has become more than just a movie, it’s become a movement. So much has been put on this movie because of its almost entirely black cast, and its African centric content. It’s gotten to the point where wether or not this movie is good as a movie is more or less irrelevant, and just like the movie itself, that’s good and bad. There are many areas where Black Panther really stands up as a movie and makes a statement, and there are things that let it down a bit. To start with this is definitely the most political comic book movie ever made, and it’s very bold in its subject matter. It tackles black issues from basically the beginning of Africa to current day, and it does so by mostly raising discussion, but it does also offer some words or wisdom if not answers about them. But this movie is still also a movie, and as a movie it has an entirely separate section of obligations to attend to. The cast here is really excellent, everyone does a great job at the personal and interpersonal relationships between characters, and the subtle things that make them all different. One of the biggest complaints lodged about MCU movies are the villains, and Michael B Jordan’s “Killmonger” is at the same time a break from their typical villain typecast, and yet even he shares some of the issues of those very characters. In many ways Killmonger is the antithesis of Chadwick Boseman’s T’Challa. They come from opposite sides of the same tracks (a metaphor turned visual by the end) in their view of the world, but they still want similar ends, just by vastly different means. Killmonger also has very strong and very well motivated moral convictions, that force us and T’Challa to change how they look at the world, and in this manner he is successful, where that character breaks down, is in the inevitability of him become a Black Panther to fight Black Panther. In so many of these movies we get villains that are reduced to being a different colour or style of our hero, whereas all the really great villains of the MCU become more than that. That’s all not to say I didn’t like his character or Jordan’s portrayal of him, Killmonger was always truly poignant and decisive in his actions, but I can’t not see that he still added to that trend of MCU villains. I see any criticism of this film has been treated as a strike against all the great things this movie can mean and create, and I wish it only success, but this is s movie review, and when I see issues I have to raise them. Outside of what this movie brings politically and culturally, the thing that this movie is missing to be at the level of say the top 5 movies of it kind is that it’s missing that real stand out moment that will have the average viewer wanting to rewatch this movie. Black Panther is a great movie, and it’s a mold breaker in many ways, but it’s not a mold breaker just as a movie. I feel very much about this movie as I did about the first Guardians of the Galaxy, that it’s something we haven’t seen before in many ways, but it’s still has some of the pitfalls that can plague movies like this. Black Panther has the pressure on it of having to be great movie, a great political piece, and a great comic book movie. And honestly, it should be commended for what’s its done in all of those arenas, but some of that pressure and those expectations are a blessing and a curse. Everyone should see this movie for its messages. Anyone who’s a fan of these movies should see it also. Wether this movie should be judged just on its merits as a film, or on something more isn’t for me to say, but I have tried my best to explain how it made me feel, and the enjoyment I certainly had with it.

Review Score : 8.5 out of 10

There are also two end credit scenes just a FYI.

Review : Bright

Netflix-Bright-Will-Smith-Joel-Edgerton

“Set in a world where mystical creatures live side by side with humans. A human cop is forced to work with an Orc to find a weapon everyone is prepared to kill for.”

This has been a huge year for Netflix, and one of there big projects was the movie Bright. A decently large budget movie, with some big name talent in front and behind the camera, and more hope from Netflix to become serious players in the movie business. So is Bright the answer to that question? Not really, but it shows a lot of promise. Bright as a concept, is really good and really exciting. Bright as executed however, isn’t all sunshine and magic wands. To start with, the two leads here in Will Smith and Joel Edgerton are both perfectly cast, and excellent in their roles. Joel does a great job of acting through his make up, still delivering an honest performance that made him seem extremely natural as an actual orc. We also see here why for a decade or so, Will Smith was the biggest blockbuster movie actor that money could buy, because he has an effortless way of being funny, entertaining and charismatic when needed, but while also having the range to give us the feels when thats needed. The rest of the cast here are also very solid and its nice to see their commitment to their roles. That being said, the characters is a good place to get into some of the issues. A lot of the characters feel real and lived in here, but many of them seem to have strong motivations that we don’t get to see develop, or where they really stem from. This can make some of the characters seem caricaturish, which is compounded upon by some of the script dialogue here. Thats not to say this is a bad script, its definitely not bad, and maybe a lot of the dialogue here is ad-libbed, but a lot of it comes off as something someone told a person to say, rather than what that person would actually say. This movie really and truly, is a lot of promise, and not a lot of pay off. They build an entire world here for us and these characters, but they only have so much time to delve into it, and that leaves a lot of interesting information on the sidelines and surplus to requirements. If this was a series, I feel like it could genuinely fulfil that promise, but as is, Bright is a great fantasy cross over movie in theory and concept, but just a fun watch it at home for “free” type of movie (which isn’t what Netflix is paying for this movie to be).

Review Score : 6 out of 10