“Alita: Battle Angel” Review

A long time ago, I heard tell of James Cameron stating his desires to make a movie based off the manga and anime Battle Angel: Alita. I doubted it. This was the era where there was also news swirling of a Neon Genesis Evangelion movie. Cameron still seemed committed to the idea but his schedule grew busier with his underwater documentaries and directing another box office titan, Avatar. But he kept his word and now we have what is perhaps one of the most faithful American adaptations of a Japanese manga and anime. Continue reading ““Alita: Battle Angel” Review”

“Chungking Express” Review

Chungking Express is a wonderful portrayal of quirky, confused and complicated people in the crowded corners of Hong Kong. A young cop faces a quarter-life crisis as he approaches his 25th birthday. A mysterious blonde-wigged woman becomes a mess as her underground drug operations go south. A restaurant employee plays “California Dreamin’” loudly at the counter to avoid thinking. Another cop laments about the recent breakup of his girlfriend by treating all his inanimate objects like human beings, from stuffed animals to washcloths. Some of these characters collide, and some don’t. Some of their stories have an ending and others ambiguously fade away. Continue reading ““Chungking Express” Review”

“The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part” Review

2014’s The Lego Movie was such a groundbreaking animated take on toy-based property films that a sequel would not be easy to craft. So it’s not the least bit surprising that The Lego Movie 2 treads and fairly safe ground, taking care to stick to what made the first film so inspiring and clever. It’s nothing all that new, especially when we’re aware of this animated tale being part of the bigger story about families coming together. But it mostly gets the job done of being another silly scenario of merging properties and toys. Continue reading ““The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part” Review”

“They Shall Not Grow Old” Review

World War 1 is not a subject that has been given as lavish a documentary as the more footage-heavy conflicts of World War 2 and The Vietnam War among others of the second half of the 20th century. But after 100 years, director Peter Jackson assures that the war itself is not forgotten but that the English soldiers who served weren’t passed over either. A tribute to his grandfather, They Shall Not Grow Old is one of the most remarkable films on the subject of WWI in scope, personal accounts, and its use of theatrics, marking one of the few times where 3D enhances the theater-going experience. Continue reading ““They Shall Not Grow Old” Review”

“The Kid Who Would Be King” Review

As a fantasy that manages to be blunt with its message and light with its adventure, The Kid Who Would Be King fits snugly into the familiar armor of a plucky kid-oriented adventure just for young fantasy seekers. There are no in-jokes for the adults nor a surprise for the direction this story is going with its magical tale of swords, knights, magic, and demons. It’s perfectly suited to be a kids-only affair, where the wee ones get a chance to skip class and save the world while wielding a sword. It’s the type of production where the adults will smile, though not as wide as the kids who are sure to dig it. Continue reading ““The Kid Who Would Be King” Review”

“Glass” Review

There’s a lot of potential in a film like Glass to be M. Night Shyamalan’s best film as a crossover of Unbreakable and Split. Assembled are three top notch actors handed meaty roles of super-powered people with conflicting views of the world. All the ingredients are there for a brilliantly terrifying and insightful film of superheroes and supervillains but all Shyamalan seems to do with the material is throw it in a comic book pressure cooker set to the mildest of settings that even his twist comes off more disappointing than insane. Continue reading ““Glass” Review”

“The Upside” Review

I partially knew what I was in for with a film like The Upside. Prepared for the most milquetoast of melodrama, I grabbed a coffee and sat back hoping to be won over by the chemistry of Kevin Hart and Bryan Cranston. The coffee was a mistake as I found myself so baffled by the poor filmmaking layered on top of banal laughs and hokey drama that I wondered why the rest of the audiences seemed to be rolling with laughter. I wish I had whatever they were drinking. Continue reading ““The Upside” Review”

“Stan & Ollie” Review

Both Steve Coogan and John C. Reilly certainly have the look of the iconic comedic duo Laurel and Hardy down pat. Stan & Ollie is a film that doesn’t waste that look, taking care to make something worthy of their makeup but not merely turn in a somber tale of how the two faded from the silent vaudeville days into the frustrating 1950s. It’s a love letter to the pair which takes a fonder approach to their twilight years and gives them a gracious send-off rather than a golden glory day retrospective. Continue reading ““Stan & Ollie” Review”

“Aquaman” Review

I dread making this statement but I feel as though I must; I dug Aquaman before he was cool. At least the cool that I’m sure many are experiencing with James Wan’s Aquaman movie, championing the media stigma of his past appearance on Super Friends making him look like a dope. Consider how the oceans are vast and not entirely explored a realm, teaming with untold discoveries. Also consider how Aquaman wields over this domain with his best girl Mera, able to control water to such a degree she could remove all of it from the human body in a few seconds. Wan is aware of all this and taps all the potential an Aquaman movie is worth, patchy and messy as it may be. Continue reading ““Aquaman” Review”

“Bumblebee” Review

Bumblebee has a very, very low bar too cross to be competent. Michael Bay has developed the Transformers franchise into an incoherent mess of subplots, cynicism, clunky robots, and product placement that another director would have to actively be trying to make a more terrible film than his many entries. While I’d applaud director Travis Knight for taking a machete to the Transformers insanity and bringing in some much-needed heart, I wish I could applaud him for more than that, merely turning in a lukewarm tale of a kid and her robot. Continue reading ““Bumblebee” Review”