Rogue One: A review

Rogue One

Runtime: 2 hours 13 minutes
Budget: Estimated to be $ 200 million

The latest addition to the Star Wars movie universe could be considered a sequel to the prequels…or maybe a prequel to the sequels. It’s confusing if you think about it too much. That’s why we shouldn’t think about it and just enjoy it for what it is. You know what else is confusing? The spelling for “Rogue” and “Rouge.” Such a minor error could make a drastically different meaning…kind of like “Angels” and “Angles.” Hmm…

It’s hard to spoil the movie because you know how it ends, but I’ll remain respectful. I want everyone to enjoy the full experience of the story. This iteration is must darker than its predecessors (chronologically…in the real world, as opposed to chronologically in the Star Wars world. You know what I mean). The film told a war story set in the Star Wars universe, so that much was necessary. Overall, it was well done and compelling despite knowing the result of the story.

For the most part, the filmmakers were respectful of the previously made content, including the prequels. They paid homage subtly, made mostly tasteful cameos and mentions.

My main complaint would be the score—specifically one track. It sounded like some low budget movie wanting to rip off the original Star Wars theme, but composed it slightly differently so as not to infringe on copyrights. Yikes. The timing only exacerbated it, taking me out of the movie at one point. Minor and nitpicky, for the most part.

Continuing the nitpick, I could have lived without some of those grandiose speeches as I felt they didn’t add too much. On to the good stuff.

They portrayed the desperation of the rebels well and left a sense of just how difficult life was for the non-force wielding, plot armored bastards that got all the glory.

A corridor full of people that are dead, but just don't know it yet.

A corridor full of people that are dead, but just don’t know it yet.

A lot of scenes were beautifully shot. I might be biased because they went how I would’ve done it…if I had two decades of directing experience and a $200 million budget.

Reshoots and changes left a lot of trailer scenes out of the movie. Regrettable since some of those scenes looked brilliant. Their final product remains strong though. I would rate it higher than Episode VII: The Force Awakens.

CommBro Breaker

Unfortunately, I knew a fair share of people that didn’t realize that this movie took place between Episode III and Episode IV. Given that fact, I can see why they would be baffled by what they saw as a fourth Death Star. Haha…man. I would’ve been quite negative about that if I had been in their position.

Period Piece Smackdown: Mutliple reviews

Here I am again, falling behind on reviews, so I’m giving you three at once. Much to my pleasure, I found a way to bundle them all. These period films all take place between the 1926 and 1945. From the Roaring Twenties to World War II.

Hacksaw Ridge
Runtime: 2 hours and 19 minutes
Budget: Estimated to be $40 million

Great movie. It was probably the most intense World War II film I had seen since Saving Private Ryan. Battle scenes were very long, but remained engaging and never felt like too much. It was kind of gruesome, but that’s the reality of war. Mel Gibson managed to put together a compelling film after his hiatus.

Some of the romance scenes were a bit awkward and you could almost hear an audible cringe in the theater. However, some might say that’s also realistic.

I will refrain from saying too much more and let you experience it for yourself. The plot is straightfoward, but well told.

CommBro Breaker

Let’s see how Dunkirk stacks up in Summer 2017! Can it unseat Saving Private Ryan—or even surpass Hacksaw Ridge? Christopher Nolan has made quite a few good movies, so hopefully his WWII film can at least compete with these two greats.


Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Runtime: 2 hours and 13 minutes
Budget: Estimated to be $180 million

I never read the book. I didn’t even know one existed untila homie filled me in after the movie. Because of that, I can only critique it purely as a standalone film and not in relation to the book. Well, I actually wouldn’t have done that regardless. So don’t go telling me his real name was FigNewton McGerrymander in the hallowed novel.

Speaking of gerrymandering, the film contains a lot of slight jabs at the U.S. way of life. Complete with magical bureaucracy. I don’t mind too much, but they got a lot of wrong about 1920s America. That being said, at least they had convincing sets for the period piece. It was designed well and it really felt like they could go anywhere in New York City.

All of the bigger characters make questionable moves at some point. Is logic not a thing for these witches and wizards? Some of them just happen to be rules they can’t break…until they do or just conveniently placed restrictions. Kind of like a magical version of how a protagonist/antagonist never runs out of bullets in his/her gun until it’s required in the story.

Honestly, I found this one to be better than the other eight Harry Potter movies so far. I personally thought those were all mediocre though. That puts Fantastic Beasts at solid.The non-spinoff series featured far too many wand beam battles that end up being really dull. I’d just go watch Dragon Ball Z for that crap (or that crappy X-Men: Apocalypse). We can probably thank the focus on the animals to that horrible trend being reduced.

CommBro Breaker

I stick to my no spoilers policy, so I’ll be vague as possible. People in this movie move on a little too fast. That was probably the worst part of it.


Allied
Runtime: 2 hours and 4 minutes
Budget: Estimated to be $85 million

This had to be the worst of the three. It wasn’t that great of a movie in general. Somehow they maintained it just north of watchable.

The entire movie seemed to be hinged entirely on believing in Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard as a couple. Despite spending so much of the movie trying to set that up, it wasn’t very convincing. It really messed with the impact of the ending.

At least everything weighed out to being okay. They did an admirable job on certain scenes and definitely made some tense interrogations that I would compare to the more serious parts of Inglourious Basterds.

I’d either wait until streams are available or catch it at a dollar theater. Not worth the full theater price.

CommBro Breaker

How many places and sides did Brad Pitt serve in during WWII? He’s flown planes to France, led tank platoons across North Africa and Germany, and negotiated an assassination of Hilter. He’s gone onto the front lines and snooped around as a spy. I wonder if he ran into Captain America at any point during his travels.

Spy/War Daddy/Basterd

Spy/War Daddy/Basterd

Doctor Strange: A review

Doctor Strange

Runtime: 1 hour 55 minutes
Budget: Estimated to be $ 165 million

After being able to push weird properties like Ant-Man and Guardians of the Galaxy, Marvel presents the latest from their repotoire: Weird, M.D. I mean, Doctor Strange.

Just as how Spider-man taught everyone that getting bit by a spider will make you into a superhero, Doctor Strange taught you that if you text and drive, you’ll get wrecked, become partially disabled and then become a superhero! Out of responsibility, I feel it is necessary to inform you that I was being facetious and you shouldn’t text and drive—or get bit by spiders.

The true lesson of the movie is to stop being an arrogant asshole. I know, that’s a rarity in this world. Yes, I’m being facetious again. Don’t be arrogant or an asshole.

Doctor Strange was a well crafted film and a solid work of art. The combination of the CG and choreography created a smooth experience. Top-notch cinematography and great ideas on the scenes.

My main complaint about the movie? Too short. Everything about it. I wanted a longer movie, longer sequences of the impressive visuals, and the doctor being a doctor for more screentime.

I know nobody paid to see a movie about Stephen Strange doing brain surgeries on people, but I really wish they spent more time building him and his reputation up before knocking it down. He went from House to Harry Potter a little too quickly for my tastes.

If you have the chance, definitely go watch this. In IMAX if possible. I think it’s worth it. If you can’t get it without the 3D though, I would have second thoughts. Still not a fan of 3D.

CommBro Breaker

How better to CommBro Break than to immediately switch to another review. I was slow about getting together a review of Sully, so I’m just going to sneak a mini-review into here.

Sully was a decent film. Hard to really spoil anything for a historical drama, so I’m just going to write.

Some of the dialogue was a little too “on the nose.” The ending read kind of a like one of those fake Tumblr scenarios. Otherwise, it was good. Hard to stretch out a story about 208 seconds to a feature length movie, but they did it. I do actually like how they showed a shorter version of what happened in the cockpit and then again towards the end of his National Transportation Safety Board.

Might be too late to catch it in theaters at this point, but worth a matinee price if you can find it and have time.

Kubo: A review

Kubo and the Two Strings

Runtime: 1 hour 42 minutes
Budget: Estimated to be $60 million

I was busy prepping to leave the country and was busy catching up on everything after I got back. As a result, I have not published any movie reviews in a while, so I hope no one was sitting on their Netscape Navigator hitting the reload button. What’s that? You’ve all moved onto Internet Explorer and it’s called a refresh button?

Yes, as the resident Slowpoke, I am now about to give you new stuff about old things. Here are mini reviews on all the movies I watched between Finding Dory and Kubo:

Warcraft– Pretty good, but critically panned for what I perceive to be shallow reason. Could’ve and should’ve been longer to make cuts less awkward.It was made with care.

The Shallows– Summer movie for the shark obsessed. Small cast, low budget. Not terrible, not great. Pretty decent considering how cheaply it was made (Estimated $17 million).

Star Trek Beyond– I feel like since the reboot series started, each one has been getting worse. They haven’t gotten to the point of bad yet and they’ve got some watch value. However, if the trend continues, the next one will be a waste of money.

Suicide Squad– Terrible movie. I actually opted out of reviewing it rather than just being a time constraint.

Now that your trailers are over, time for the feature film.

Kubo was an intelligently made film that somehow maintained a PG rating in this day and age. It can get dark at times, so don’t go running to take your kids just yet. You should be the judge of whether your kid is mature enough…unless he/she is 20 years old. At that point it might be time to let them screen what movies they watch on their own. Just a suggestion.

One aspect of the intelligence was the quick, snarky remarks tossed back and forth by the characters. The movie had more quips than one of my posts. Again, I’ll let you be the judge on what that means.

From a cinematography standpoint, it viewed like a pop-up book. I mean that in the best way possible.

So not like that one. Yeah, I’m not letting you be the judge this time. What I actually meant is that the film was very artfully done and visually appealing.

While mostly well done, the film does harp on some of the same corny refrains that family movies like to do. Despite pushing these good ‘ole values, they somehow gave quite a dubious message at the end. Staying true to my no spoiler effort, I can’t really say much more than that.

CommBro Breaker

The ADA and PETA can probably collaborate on a class-action lawsuit against Kubo and friends. Watch it and you’ll see.

Finding Dory: A review

Finding Dory

Runtime: 1 hour 45 minutes
Budget: Estimated to be $200 million

After the abomination of a short preceding Inside Out, Pixar seemed to have stepped up their game. This short, Piper, was about a sandpiper hunting for shellfish. Why not, right? They’ve already done all the work for the sky, sand, and water. The animation was actually superb. Maybe Pixar just wanted to show off how far their visuals have progressed. The rendering must’ve taken forever. The poor intern probably put the short in the render queue and left to finish college before it completed. Anyway, they created a good, self-contained story.

I’ve noticed a trend in all the good Pixar shorts. Guess what they all have in common. They’re told without words—unlike Lava. We should all try applying that advice to our lives. Here, I’ll start:

 

 

 

 

 

 

CommBro Breaker

Okay, I tried. Hard to make a blog without words. Onto a real review:

I really thought Pixar did a good job with the movie. Again, the visuals were a solid “A.” The real trick is pairing that with a compelling story—and they did that admirably. No major complaints in that department.They somehow flushed out an entire, believable backstory for Dory.

In the end, I think the biggest theme of the movie was exploring limitations.  For one, they are fish and limited to water in some form. However, most of the characters—major or supporting—had limitations that reached beyond that, whether it was a physical disability, mental disability, or just mental blocks. They really stuck to that and delivered some corny messages in a palatable way, as opposed to in-your-face and cheesy. Those touching moments should serve as encouragement for those suffering from disabilities and mental illnesses. Unfortunately, it also comes with some suspect lessons. Hopefully kids don’t take it all to heart…like those kids that flushed their fish after the first movie came out. Some drains lead to the garbage disposal unit or a septic tank. Ugh.

The character Hank was essentially a get-out-of-jail-free card for their oceanic obstructions. They could’ve cheated by making him the solution to all their problems. Luckily, they Pixar team put some constraints on themselves, allowing other characters to thrive and problem-solve. That crazy octopus was one of the highlights of the film.

Surprisingly, the movie had more humor than even some comedy movies. And while there weren’t any sharks this time, the movie sure jumps the shark at some point. Towards the end, everything goes wild before it all comes together. It was like one of those well-crafted sitcoms, where everything comes back together to create one final super gag.

Overall, great film. I’d tell you to go watch it, but I bet most of you already beat me to it.

The CommBro Breaker Strikes Back

Nemo was easily the worst part of the movie. Why did they bother to find him in the first place? It kind of makes me think that Pixar knew what they were doing when they made Nemo disappear for half of the first movie. Makes me want Finding Nemo 3 to be Finding Nemo 3: Left in the Aquarium. I’m not advocating for child abandonment, by the way—even if they’re annoying brats.

Hopefully Hank doesn’t go on to join the Flying Dutchman’s crew after after Nemo bugs the crap out of him.

hank davy jones

He would think twice before going onto land again.

Or he could also become Zoidberg. He would get to go to space!

With his abilities, he should really go into acting.

With his abilities, he should really go into acting.

X-Men Apocalypse: A review

X-Men: Apocalypse

Runtime: 2 hours 24 minutes
Budget: Estimated to be $178 million

I highly considered doing a full on spoiler-filled review, but ultimately decided to keep the current format. It’s really hard to say a lot of things about this film without it.Yeah, I might be looking for excuses. But this movie’s creators should be too.

Without spoilers, I will mention some cameo moments were handled well, and some were, decidedly, not. Poor Jubilee. Even after the soft reboot, she continues to have inadequate film representation. Will she ever get a fair shake?

The film exuded more of a comic-booky feel, which is a departure from previous Bryan Singer directed X-Men films (X-Men, X2, Days of Future Past). Whether or not that is a good thing would depend on your kind of style. One unfortunate byproduct of that atmosphere were some bad puns and cringe-worthy symbolism. Much like some of the wooden dialouge.

Some of the dialogue felt seemed straight out of a rough draft of a school essay. Jennifer Lawrence certainly didn’t do much to improve those lines. While I generally like her performances in the movies I’ve seen (including First Class and Days of Future Past), her acting came off as lackluster to me in this installment. And it doesn’t stop there.

Bad dialogue can be improved by a good story and compelling characters, right? Yes, you’re right. Unfortunately, the villain was written in a generic fashion and the four horsemen were really just there to look pretty for a majority of the film. I can understand—and even appreciate—deviated from the source material to make historically good characters bad or bad characters good, but were the motivations really there? I didn’t think there was enough evidence for it. Don’t do it just to do it.

When all else fails you, there are still action scenes to keep the exciting going! Yeah, those fell flat too. Some of the fights looked like Dragon Ball Z with X-Men characters pasted over it.

It was a little higher budget than this. A little.

It was a little higher budget than this. A little.

The final fight was especially underwhelming even though that’s what most of the movie was building towards. Even when the choreography was good, it was hampered by the cuts. Their choices for transition points just didn’t help the pacing in the final sequence. It was quite jarring and left a very unsatisfying feeling.

Man, this is getting too long so I’m just going to cut to the CommBro Breaker

CommBro Breaker

The film was a mess overall, but had some extremely good elements and memorable scenes. It started out oh so promising, and then suffered. Before I start prattling on again, I’ll list a few of the big things I found good about the film:

  1. Michael Fassbender’s performance as Magneto (and various Magneto moments in the film)
  2. Evan Peter’s performance as Quicksilver (and various Quicksilver moments in the film)
  3. Various Psylocke action scenes (although far too short)

After everything negative I had to say about the film I would still sum up X-Men: Apocalypse as one word: mediocre. Just like this review…

The Nice Guys: A review

The Nice Guys

Runtime: 1 hour 56 minutes
Budget: Estimated to be $50 million

After surviving the events of L.A. Confidential in 1953, Russell Crowe and Kim Basinger are both back at it in The Nice Guys about 20-something years later. The quiet life probably didn’t suit them, so they came back to LA to stir up crap—and stuff.

Funnily enough, the movies were made about 20 years apart. (1997 and 2016)

Funnily enough, the movies were made about 20 years apart. (1997 and 2016)

No, the films aren’t actually connected. This isn’t the Marvel Cinematic Universe here. Although, The Nice Guys was directed by Shane Black, director and co-writer of Iron Man 3. And also a Bruin.

At least they had a shot of the Felix car dealership across from USC.

A real LA gem

A real LA gem.

You could actually see the Gateway building…which didn’t even exist in 2007, let alone 1977. But since you didn’t come here for a USC history lesson…

Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe put their sorry characters together to try and solve a mystery with as much grace and subtlely as Jar Jar Binks and Forrest Gump. Overall, the film was interesting and worth a watch, but didn’t do any one particularly impressively. That’s not an insult by any means, but an honest evaluation.

The screenplay was a solid one, with lots of quips and funny moments brought to you by Gosling. I don’t remember any of the jokes really falling flat. However, over-reliance on coincidences to solve their problems seemed to be almost cheating.

Gosling even brings up his apparent plot armor as a joke at one point. Maybe that’s the point. It’s supposed to be a comedy, after all. It was a little more grounded in reality than, say, The Other Guysbut very far from the aforementioned L.A. Confidential on the spectrum of serious or not. They got some kicks out of the recurring side jokes.

Sadly, while the daugther was funny and intriguing as a character, she was the physical embodiment of the script’s biggest problem. She became whatever they needed her to be at any given moment to drive the plot along.

Props (haha!) to costume designers and set builders. I didn’t live through the 70s, but the look and feel were mostly convincing—except for things like Gateway showing up, but non-USC people probably wouldn’t know the difference.

Again, the film suffered from some flaws, but wasn’t bad. If you like comedy and crime films, you will probably enjoy it. Give them credit for trying to make a movie that isn’t based on something else—unlike most of the trailers prior to the movie. Tarzan, Bourne, Warcraft, Doctor Strange, even the Free State of Jones…

CommBro Breaker

not that there’s anything wrong with that. My personal philosophy is that films that strive for an original idea should be commended. The problem comes in when films that are based on something are derided. As long as they make good films, it shouldn’t matter. CommBro out.

P.S. don’t drop mics because they’re expensive and fragile.

Captain America – Civil War: A Review

Captain America: Civil War

Runtime: 2 hours 27 minutes
Budget: Estimated to be $250 million

In the latest Marvel film, #TeamAmerica and #WorldPolice duke it out over ideological differences.

worldpolice

Whoops. Wrong hashtags

Yeah, yeah. So it’s really #TeamCap and #TeamIronMan. But you got to admit that those hashtags are fitting.

Anyway, time for your spoiler-free review. I find the movie to be one of the best of the 13 in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It took most of those films to build up the friction and tension between the heroes. The ticking time bomb finally exploded in Civil War, giving the audience an absolute spectacle. My gosh, those action scenes were intense and satisfying.

To the uninitiated viewer, it may seem like a lot of bloat and way too many characters to understand.That was simply unavoidable somewhere along the line in the MCU. If you are one that has missed a significant number of films (especially Age of Ultron), you may not get the full experience out of the movie. However, that won’t stop it from being enjoyable.

The movie isn’t just an enjoyable action flick with explosions all day. It throws in subtleties and callbacks to the other movies. There’s definitely some emotion, if you have been following the characters. The interspersed jokes were hilarious, serving to relieve some of the tension. Overall, I would rank the three Captain America movies as follows:

1-tie. Winter Soldier
1-tie. Civil War
3. The First Avenger

CommBro Breaker

I’ve got to add a disclaimer that this was one of my favorite trilogies, so may review could be kind of biased. While I fully admit it, I’m not going to recuse myself from writing a review. Just go watch the damn thing and decide for yourself.

In the spirit of Civil War, I will rank all the current MCU movies in order to bait some arguments:

1-tie. Winter Soldier
1-tie. Civil War
3. Guardians of the Galaxy
4. The First Avenger
5. Iron Man
6. The Avengers
7. Ant-Man
8. Age of Ultron
9. Iron Man 2
10. The Dark World
11. Iron Man 3
12. Thor
13. The Incredible Hulk

Hardcore Henry: A review

Hardcore Henry

Runtime: 1 hours 36 minutes
Budget: Estimated to be $250 thousand

Hardcore Henry was a movie funded on Indiegogo and bought by STX Entertainment, a fledgling studio, for $10 million. The over-the-top action sci-fi was filmed mostly on a GoPro camera. While the whole first person thing might be a gimmick, they certainly don’t survive over it. It was shot and set in Russia, starring a South African actor (Sharlto Copley) and off an extremely modest budget, just to make sure you knew this isn’t your average film.

As you may have guessed, the plot lacks substance. Basically, Henry seeks to kill the main antagonist, Akan. The film is more akin to The Raid: Redemption than Spotlight. Much like many of the video games that the movie pays homage to, the main character doesn’t even speak. Most of the exposition comes humorously through Jimmy.

The jokes in the movie probably save it from being a one-trick pony—kinda like my blog. The gags pervade every aspect of the film, down to how they display some of the subtitles. Stuff like that is where the true value of the movie lies.

Like you would expect, Hardcore Henry puts the gore on full blast. It could be awkward watch with your parents. If you’re a parent, don’t bring your kids. Send them to watch casual Henry instead. Or royal Henry on BBC, or a documentary of racist Henry building some Model Ts.

On top of the violence warning there needs to be a nausea warning. Watching things in first person tends to make a bountiful number of people sick. To avoid a bountiful amount of vomit coating the theater floors, you should all consider this in advance. I found it completely bearable, but the two others in my party had some trouble. The filmmakers went to great lengths to minimize it as much as possible.

CommBro Breaker

The movie really made me appreciate my nervous system and the immense amount of sensory input that it gives my brain. I had no idea what was going on around Henry for some moments. It really goes to show how much our senses do to give us a bearing of the world.

And because I must, I will close with one final pun: Henry must’ve been wearing one hardcore henley to not get ruined after everything he went through.

Batman v Superman: A review

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

Runtime: 2 hours 31 minutes
Budget: Estimated to be $250 million

Batman v Superman is the second DC Extended Universe (DCEU) film, following behind Man of Steel. It’s less boring than the non-action scenes of Man of Steel and was better than the Rotten Tomatoes rating would suggest. The movie sits somewhere between that and decent on the spectrum.

In case you needed a visual representation. Dug out from the City of Angles archive. Not.

In case you needed a visual representation. Dug out from the City of Angles archive. Not.

Batman v Superman had potential. Those expectations quickly changed to concern upon the first dream sequence. After pulling off an artful opening, they follow it up with a cringey scene…minutes into the movie. I felt that those dream sequences were one of the more horribly executed parts of the movie. The editing also gave it a run for its money.

Scenes, both necessary and unnecessary, kept getting tossed at you in a dizzying fashion (climax and epilogue are the biggest offenders). That really screwed with the pacing and was straight up jarring in certain moments. I understand that they had a lot to cram into the two and a half hours while also setting it up for the Justice League films. That shouldn’t be an excuse to create a hodgepodge of scenes that are confused about its own identity. However, these issues don’t stop it from being an entertaining film.

Luckily, they managed to fit in some visually satisfying action scenes. The film carries immense post-production value. The visual effects and sound editing keep it a theater-worthy experience. Post can’t save a weak script though…

The concept of Batman fighting Superman is great. There are so many reasons for them to fight. Somehow, they managed to make it feel unsatisfying. How do they spend a majority of the movie building up to it, yet make their reasons for fighting feel so contrived? Their little spat was akin to how a RomCom would play out. A simple explanation that takes a sentence or two would have cleared everything up. It’s called communication, people.But I guess not everyone can be a CommBro; it is a daunting and harrowing calling. Certainly not one taken by a reclusive rich man that saw his parents die or some alien that’s confused about his role on Earth.

RomCommBro Breaker

While I try to avoid comparing the DCEU to the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) and Fox Marvel properties, the comparisons are inevitable. However, I posit that my comparisons will be meaningless and without substance. Enjoy.

A Hydra agent (Callan Mulvey) finds new work in Metropolis after being beat up in Captain America: Winter Soldier. After you get beatdown by a super solider, why would you then move to a city where you could get beat down by a flying, superpowered alien? Curious.

The heir to the Yashida Corporation (Tao Okamoto) spends her time as an assistant to Lex Luthor at LexCorp. This is probably because she spent her entire family’s fortune to smooth over Silver Samurai incident in The Wolverine.

No, they’re not actually connected. I was found it funny that they took minor characters from Fox Marvel and Disney Marvel and brought them into the DCEU. When you’re an actor, work is work.