Baywatch

Baywatch Movie Review

Baywatch was a cream-filled pastry in the dinner menu of network TV. It existed only for exposing hard bodies and soft curves with a sweet summer tan. But now, there is no better way to have a movie based on the TV series. Just have the same focus on the brawn and the bodies, and the tanned cleavage starring right back at you. Nothing serious, just a “Baywatch” extended episode with the hard-R raunchiness factor turned way up.

“Baywatch” is now led by a bulked-up head lifeguard named Mitch Buchannon (Dwayne Johnson). He has new recruits for the summer, and one of them is former (but now disgraced) Olympic gold-winner swimmer Matt Brody (Zac Efron). Brody was forced on Mitch by his boss, because the team needed ‘star power’. The other recruits are Summer (Alexandra Daddario) and Ronnie (Jon Bass).  They join other Baywatch members, including Stephanie (Ilfenesh Hadera) and C.J. Parker (Kelly Rohrbach).

Mitch is pleased to just save lives on the beach and getting people to behave. But there is a mysterious drug trade popping up, and Mitch thinks he knows who is behind it all. A new woman who has just taken over a fancy club is named Victoria Leeds (Priyanka Chopra). She has money and influence with the city council. But Mitch believes she is behind a growing conspiracy to take over with drug running.

 

Soon a councilman dies out on a party boat, and Mitch and his team are skeptical of the ‘official’ explanation. Mitch and Matt continue to dig into what happened. The other team members including Summer and C.J. are investigating the situation. Ronnie finds out that someone he knew was been found dead from a shark attack. But this guy had been working for Leeds at her club, and the guy could not even swim. Something is fishy, and it ain’t the fish.

Mitch’s boss tells him to cool it, and the local police do not want his help. But Mitch has latched on to something and he will not let go. He even gets a visit from someone who first taught Mitch everything about being leader of Baywatch. It is The Mentor (David Hasselhoff). When everyone on his team seems to be in trouble, it is Mitch to the rescue.

This version of “Baywatch” is pretty much like the TV series. It has no reason for you to take it seriously. There are plenty of hard bodies on display, and many tanned bosoms. But as far as plot or story line, well, that went out with the tide. When the movie attempts to get into an actual plot, it tends to drown out all the comedy. And when it goes for the funny parts, it sometimes gets too dirty and gritty. Like too much sand in your swimsuit. When you have six different people working out the story and script, the result is like Memorial Day size crowds on the beach, you cannot find one spot and stick to it.

All of the actors seem to be having a great time. Dwayne Johnson is amazing to watch, everything he does seems so natural and easy. He looks relaxed and in control. Zac Efron is an asset to every scene he is in. He has such a clueless look and winning smile that you can’t help but root for him. Alexandra Daddario does a fine job, and she does some nice comedy bits. Kelly Rohrbach just oozes out sex appeal and beauty. But Jon Bass does some classic fun stuff in his role, being a ‘fish out of water’ type, right next to the beach.

If this movie had the focus of the movie version of  “21 Jump Street” and really went all out into the ‘hey, this is something so dumb it seems like it could be from a TV show’, then this might be a classic. But it did not go in that direction, and this movie will be nothing more than a sand castle built on the beach at low tide. It’s here today, and tomorrow gone.

Paris Can Wait Movie Review

This film is pure escapism.  Anne (Lane), wife of Michael (Baldwin), a movie mogul who is so successful he’s usually too busy to spend time with her, is on a car trip from Cannes to Paris with her husband’s business partner, Jacques, played ardently by Arnaud Viard, to then meet her husband there for vacation.  They live in L.A. but are in Cannes for the film festival and always end up in Paris after. 

This time the trip will take her to Paris by land, rather than by air as she usually does.  She’s never seen the countryside in France, though she had always wanted to.  Lucky for her, she gets a chance to see it by an enthusiastic escort.  She assumed the trip will be seven hours but it turns out to be two days.  When she admits she had always wanted to see the lavender in bloom, and beams with joy when they drive passed some, Jacques knows he can’t let her get to Paris without experiencing all France has to offer. 

They stop for the night and have a romantic dinner; a dinner that Michael never would have been interested in taking her on, as well as one that he couldn’t have taken her on.  He hasn’t the knowledge of the land nor does he have an interest in pleasing her quite so much.  She is being treated to the vacation of her dreams.  They have tastes of almost everything on the menu and, fluent in French, Jacques speaks romantically of the dishes and the wine and speaks to her with palpable delight. 

As the miles closer to Paris dwindle, the film becomes more and more romantic.  There’s flirtation and both parties drop obvious hints of interest but things are fairly innocent.  Lane’s Anne is very sweet and gracious.  They stop at such beautiful places that she can’t help but jump out and take pictures, a new hobby of hers.  Jacques can’t help but ask to see them and is quite taken with her eye.  His genuine interest in her passions arouses, springs back to life, something in Anne that had been long expired.  You get the feeling that romance may be on Anne’s mind but she’s too innocent to ever act on it.  When the car breaks down and he suggests having a picnic rather than tending to it immediately, she tries to persuade him to get them back on the road but he reminds her that the car will be there when they’re done and so will Paris. 

The trip is lovely and she opens up a little yet a private tour through a museum, where a friend of Jacques works, shows her that men are not to be trusted, especially French men, and a piece of her heart seems to break a little.  The trip segues’s enough and along with her smiles she imparts on him a tragic and painful loss.  This scene is magnificent; everything about it delicate and done with a qualified touch, come to think of it, everything else about the film is, too.  It’s written and by Eleanor Coppola, wife of filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola (Apocalypse Now).  Though she isn’t new to filmmaking, this is her first narrative feature… and she’s 81 years of age.  This film is quite an accomplishment for a newbie.  

Paris Can Wait felt very much like a Woody Allen Film in its subject matter, style and in how the male lead, Jacques, expresses his dialogue and what the dialogue in the film reveals.  It’s even in France, a favorite location that Allen shoots.  It also has beautiful and appropriate music that accompanies us on our journey with these characters; it lightly flutters about in the background and between lines of dialogue belonging to Jacques and Anne.  I really liked it and would recommend it to anyone who likes romance and wouldn’t mind a character in a film giving you a tour through France.  From beginning to end, it held my interest seeing these two get close.  I liked how it ended and I hope that this isn’t the end for Coppola.  I thought she did a fine job and I’d be first in line to see what’s next.

The Wedding Plan Movie Review

A devoutly religious woman by the name of Michal (Koler), an Orthodox Jew, is dumped by her fiancé, Gidi, as they are making their wedding plans.  He acts strangely; she asks ‘why;’ he scolds her to put it all on her and then tells her he doesn’t love her.  Nice guy.  Regardless, it breaks her heart and she feels terrible about herself.  She wants to know what is wrong with her but being a woman who never questions God she knows she is loved by Him; therefore, he has a divine plan.  This being the case than the proposed ceremony should still go on.  It isn’t Gidi she needs to love her; God does and He will provide.  She has to believe it and trust Him.

So, from Shimi, the man who owns the wedding hall, Michal keeps the date as it was, (the eighth night of Hanukkah) books the hall and sends out the invitations to her guests.  Her groom will come.  This is a small task for God to get her a husband.  She may lack courage but he is omniscient.  So, with faith in hand, she gets some matchmakers on the job so she can meet more men to speed up the process of the remaining days for her prince to come. 

These men are, we’ll say, interesting!  One captivating scene is with a quirky man who won’t look at her because he only wants to gaze upon his wife.  He does like her and during this blind date, actually, proposes.  I’ll let you find out what happens next but it is amusing and their behavior is thought-provoking.  Everything she does is thought provoking.  It’s quite something watching her grow as a person.  Maybe because she cleanses herself by admitting that she desperate and doesn’t want to be alone anymore but in searching for someone to love her she’s finding her true self; her own identity, something she doesn’t think she poses or has the right to.  She tells her Rabbi, who is appauled she’s asking for a miracle, that she isn’t asking anything from God, only asking herself to believe in His plan.  However, she does want to know, at this point, why she was created if she’s a phony with little hope.  Still, she remains resolute.

She sees her sister in a crazy marriage of fighting for the other’s attention and she doesn’t want this but wants the life of a married woman, even if that’s what she ends up with.  She wants a life where she isn’t only being invited places but is doing the inviting.  She wants respect and she knows this will all come from having a spouse.  At thirty-two, Michal thinks she’s practically a spinster.  As the date she’s given herself to find Mr. Right draws near, family and friends are starting to have doubt but she’s holding firm.  Of the blind dates she’s endured, one possible match, Assaf, has stood out above the rest.  He may be the one but it seems he won’t be back in town before the day of the wedding.  She meets a gorgeous, very sweet, genuine, caring popstar, Yos (Zehavi) who is interested in her.  She’s almost certain he’s having fun with her but will he be the one?

I really enjoyed this movie!  It’s a great concept and the execution couldn’t have been better.  The cast was absolutely outstanding and the music!  Oh, the music is wonderful.  Soundtrack purchase for this gal!  The songs Yos sings are heard throughout the movie and they’re deep and meaningful and each piece is piercing and memorable.  Zehavi is beautiful in the film and gives the audience the glimmer of hope that Michal will be fine in the end.  Koler, in her first film role, took Michal on and showed her strengths, her weaknesses; she was cute, charming, she was nasty and could be cruel.  She was incredibly honest in her betrayal of someone who has always hidden from the truth.  I recommend The Wedding Plan highly.  I had a visceral reaction to this film because I got so involved in Michal’s outcome that I may or may not have hit the screen a few times.  Anyway, it is in subtitles but you can handle it.  It’s a marvelous story… one that comes down to the wedding day.  She’s at the alter in her dress; waiting.  Will someone come?  If so, is it the right one… the one you want her to be with?  Watch and find out.

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Alien: Covenant Movie Review

While the Alien Covenant film is tolerable, mostly due to the visuals, the crew you should be rooting for during any crisis they may be facing is less than memorable.  None of the characters are especially noteworthy and you won’t grow particularly fond of anyone as the story progresses.  It’s this connection that’s needed and is so important for a story like this to propel you into the world they inhabit. 

Fearing for a character’s safety, especially in this particular franchise, is paramount to it being a success.  Though Covenant does bring back the horror element that was more dominant in the first film, Alien, it doesn’t quite capture the consternation that the original had.  That said, it is more on the gory side of the horror, sci-fi genre.   It’s set about a decade in the aftermath of Prometheus, a film not well loved by the Alien faithful.  Though the film may not have been well received, Michael Fassbender was and is in this film, as well.  He’s back as David and also as Walter, another synthetic.  Walter looks like David, has many of the qualities of David except for one little important difference.  I’ll let you discover that on your own.

Walter Minds the crew and the ship, Covenant, as its crew members and cargo of pilgrims make their journey to another planet similar to our own in the hopes of colonizing it.  A short time passes and, of course, insert one of the typical problems that happen in films where spaceships are floating along in deep space; they’re hit by something that does damage.  This also awakens most of the crew who have been in a deep sleep… killing a few along the process.

They receive a strange message from a planet closer to the one they had originally charted their course for.  This seems a little too convenient but the captain (Crudup) says it’ll be worth a shot and they set out for this planet instead.  This is where it really gets sloppy because the things these skilled professionals are doing say to a filmgoer that the filmmaker doesn’t take your intelligence into consideration when creating a story.  Several things happen that get different members of the crew ill when they land on this unknown land.  They aren’t really quarantined which leads to more devastation but at least it’s entertaining.  Per usual, the effects are great and the visuals of the first person, who shows signs of being taken over by a foreign entity and thusly being killed by it, is ghoulish and eerie… everything you could have hoped for.

Eventually they find David who has been alone here (obviously he’s the one who would have sent the message for them to pick up) and he and Walter get to know one another; and as long as you don’t get lost as to which is which it’s fairly easy to deduce that one is up to something and the other is now a useful pawn.

A spaceship has issues; check.  We have aliens; check.  The film has formulaic touches you’d expect it to have; check.  Unfortunately, its pacing is slow and flat in the beginning and the characters so drab, (which is sad because one is supposed to be the descendant of Ripley from Alien) that it’s hard to really get into it.  There are so many, if you really want to tear it apart, problems with it that if you concentrate on them, your brain will explode so, best not to.  One specific thing I feel I must address, though, is their brains.  This crew does this for a living and they just disregard all policy, procedure, rules and… all common sense the minute they land on a strange planet?!  It makes no sense so try not to think about it too much.  Just let things that defy logic or are the completely unexplained go.  If you love sci-fi films and the Alien franchise as a whole, you might have some need for this.  You’re not going to totally dislike it, you’re just not going to love it.  It’s not the worst of the bunch; however, it’s certainly not the best.  Rumor is there will be a few more of these… I hope Scott turns the helm over to someone who can steer a little better.

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Everything, Everything Movie Review

Who’s ready for a teenage girl version of “The Boy in the Plastic Bubble”? What, no show of hands? Well, get ready anyway – because “Everything, Everything” will have you wishing you were inside your own bubble. The disease that forces you keep away from everything, everything is severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID). This is reason for the main character never leaving the house.

Maddy (Amandla Stenberg) is 18 and she has been kept in a sterile cocoon that is her house, where she lives with her mother, Dr. Whittier (Anika Noni Rose). Dr. Mom has lost her husband and son in a terrible car crash 16 years ago, so she is determined never to lose Maddy. So Maddy has been determined to have SCID, and as a result, her Dr. Mom has made the house into a germ fortress. There is an airlock at the front door. There are antibiotic soaps everywhere, and the place is kept spic and span. Maddy has a nurse, Carla (Ana de la Reguera) who tends to her when Dr. Mom is on duty elsewhere.

One day some new neighbors move in next door. They have a son about the same age as Maddy. His name is Olly (Nick Robinson), and he is very different that Maddy. Olly wears black, and he has an attitude. Maddy wears white and she always thinks of pleasant and interesting things. They have rooms that face each other on the second floor, so soon they are texting away. But since Maddy is not allowed out, and Olly is not allowed in, the movie makes many of these texting conversations as if they are done in real life. Maddy has a great imagination, so she imagines the actual Maddy and actual Olly – being together in a small model of a diner, or model of a library.

 

Maddy convinces Nurse Carla to let Olly come in to visit. Awkwardness ensues, and it gets worse when Dr. Mom finds out. Carla is fired and Maddy gets her phone and internet taken away. Oh, heavens – child abuse! But she is still infatuated with Olly, and she finds it incredibly easy to get her own credit card. She buys her own stuff, including a trip to Hawaii for herself and for Olly. Even when she does not have any type of identification and would not be able to board the plane? Of coure she bought two tickets and expects Olly to go with but has not checked with him one bit if he even could…

But, what the hey, let’s go to Hawaii. Someone might pay for it, sometime… The two lovebirds stay at a plush resort, drive a rental Jeep around the island, find deserted beaches and go swimming. Olly teaches Maddy to sort-of swim, float mostly. Until she decides they should go cliff-diving, into deep water when she cannot swim. They go on the merry way and make love, and Maddy gets deathly sick. She wakes up back in her room. So what all just happened? She lost it in Hawaii, and then she got back home again. But how…

Dr. Mom is terribly disappointed in Maddy and her behavior. She will be locked down ever more from now on. Maddy has become pretty much a prisoner in her own home, thanks to SCID. Good thing Dr. Mom has all the paperwork and results from the testing years ago that showed Maddy had a very severe case… Maddy goes to find the paperwork, and guess what?

Good grief, this movie is silly and pandering. There is no character arc for anyone. Nobody can truly be considered an antagonist, and there is no conflict and no resolution. The story just floats along on one ridiculous premise after another. This is a version of reality that even a young middle-school girl could not believe. At least the lead actors are good to look at.

 Amandla Stenberg has come a long way from playing young Rue in “The Hunger Games”. She is quite attractive and has a pleasant screen presence. Even with a flawed character, her performance is really good. Nick Robinson plays opposite her, and his role is to be her opposite. She wears white, and he wears black. She reads books, and he rides his skateboard. However, they do play the young lovers in a nicely awkward manner.

Would this movie been better if done as a “Hallmark Movie – Very Special Episode”?  Yes, because there is very little that requires a full studio production, except for the sequences shot in Hawaii. Is there anything silly and trivial about this movie? “Everything, Everything”…

Chuck Movie Review

Chuck is based on a true story.  Interestingly enough the film is based on the man who Sylvester Stallone based his Award Winning film Rocky on and that is Chuck Wepner (Schreiber) of Bayonne, New Jersey, who was a humble yet moderately successful prizefighter… and liquor salesman.  His nickname was the ‘Bayonne Bleeder.’  This came from his childhood and stuck with him because one thing he could do almost better than anyone was take a punch.  It didn’t matter how many times a fighter hit him, he took it and kept coming back for more.  He and his manager, Al Braverman (Perlman), had a ‘Never stop the fight!’ agreement.  Wepner seemed also to be a self-centered narcissist, though he’d never see himself that way… putting himself above all others was his style and only when he needed help did he truly allow people into his life.

In 1975 he was going to get his big break.  He was given the chance to fight George Foreman but suddenly, Muhammed Ali beats Foreman and the fight is off.  He’s crushed as his future depended on a match of this size.  At what seemed like the final hour, his manager gets a call from promoter Don King.  Since Chuck is a white fighter with stamina, King has the idea that he’d be ideal for a fight with Ali.  Odds of Wepner winning are Forty to One. 

Only someone like Chuck would love those odds.  Then we’re in the ring where it’s a much different story.  It’s a good match where Chuck admits to liking to ‘wear him down with my face.’  The crowd loses its mind for the butt kicking he’s taking, but he sends a surprised Ali (Pooch Hall) to the mat once and the crowd loves him even more.  Chuck’s inner dialogue during the fight is insanely comical and shows how erratic his thinking was and how unstable his mind was at the time.  If you don’t want to know the outcome, don’t read this part (skip to the next paragraph) but at the end of the fight, and much in the same way that Balboa ends his fight with Creed, he almost ‘Goes the Distance’ with Ali.  Just nineteen seconds shy of making it the entire fight, the fight is called and it’s a technical win for Ali.

I enjoyed this film.  The 70’s music and the styles are represented incredibly well; the overall look of the film itself shouts another time.  The characters are great.  Chuck shows you who he is before this fight and who he becomes after the fight… neither guy particularly pleasant but somehow still loveable.  When he’s depressed he looks for women to make him feel better… which doesn’t go over well with his wife, Phyliss, played by Elisabeth Moss who should get recognized for this performance.  She’s frightening as she approaches Chuck sitting with his latest conquest.  Her performance is excellent.  She has to hold the family together by herself because her husband, who desires to get knocked out for a living, can’t take the beating once it’s over.  She alone is worth seeing this movie. 

I really liked Chuck.  It’s perfect for both men and women; not at all just a guy film, despite the subject matter.  It’s interesting to learn that this boxer was the inspiration for Rocky and intriguing to watch him interact with Sly before the making of Rocky II.  It’s also a fascinating look at the relationship between men and women.  A quote by Chuck at the end of the film sums up his views flawlessly.  ‘Sometimes life is like a movie… and sometimes, it’s better.’  He has enjoyed being Chuck as Rocky enjoyed being who he was.  Winning or losing, it didn’t matter, as long as he was in the ring.  

Snatched

I love Amy Schumer.  I love that she’s not afraid to show off her body that isn’t the Hollywood preferred size zero or to be dirty.  Some adults like their R-rated films to be hard-core, even if they star women.  Men, don’t fear.  There isn’t too much estrogen it’ll push you away.  Snatched isn’t really geared toward any specific sex.  While it’s true a few gags are aimed directly at the relationship between mother and daughter, which is a refreshing thing to see, that not all it has.  It’s just a hysterical film.  Sophomoric also comes to mind to describe it but its genre is comedy and funny it is.  Again I will reiterate that it can be lowbrow at times but go in knowing that and just have a chuckle.   

The movie opens letting the audience know that when it comes to the mayhem that eventually happens, it’s Schumer and Hawn who’ll end up inflicting it on their captors rather than the other way around.  It’s not necessary to give this away but films can’t help but be predictable sometimes, being aware of this in advance doesn’t hurt the story any.

Schumer plays Emily, a young woman torn apart by the devastating blow her boyfriend just dealt her.  She has an exotic vacation planned to Ecuador and he breaks up with her right before they’re supposed to go.  Never one to listen to what her mother, Linda (Hawn), tells her to do, she had purchased nonrefundable tickets… something her mother always warned her against.  After asking all of her friends if they’d take the extra ticket off her hands, she has no choice but to crawl to mom and admit she didn’t listen to her and that she needs her to go.  She pleads by asking her to help put the fun in nonrefundable. 

Linda isn’t excited about it at first but admits to herself that a life that centers around her cats and dealing with Emily’s agoraphobic brother, Jeffrey (Barinholtz), who still lives at home, would be nice to get away from for awhile.  Linda does go but it’s difficult for her to let go.  She’s set in her ways and though her daughter means well and wants her to break loose, she’s not willing to change who she is for anybody.  On the beach, as Emily tries to talk her mother into relaxing and not being so afraid of everything, they end up meeting two of the more hilarious characters in the film.  They are Ruth (Sykes) and Barb (Cusack) who throw their two cents in, interrupting the conversation by disagreeing with Emily.  They tell her they should never let their guard down.  Barb was in Special-Ops and knows a lot about these matters.  Knowing that the movie is about two women who are kidnapped, it’s glaringly obvious that this will come into play later.

Emily meets the gorgeous, too good to be true, James (Bateman), who she can’t wait to have sex with.  A scene where she preps for that moment is shocking but not too surprising… this is an Amy Schumer film after all.  They decide to go out the next day and see the beauty of the land.  James says it’s okay to bring Linda for their little adventure.  Ever the pessimist, Linda doesn’t want to go but agrees to anyway.  When she turns out to be right not to trust the unknown environment, mother and daughter are tested when they’re kidnapped and thrown into a dark room.  This entire situation lends to some ludicrous scenes for Schumer to do her thing.  Luckily, they make their escape and find that they must get to the U.S. Embassy if they hope to find any further help.  The men they meet during this trek contribute to the story and the humor without being frivolous or just sex objects.  Christopher Meloni, who plays Roger a guy who slightly oversells his jungle talents, attempts to give them a hand and finds he probably should have sat this adventure out.  Bashir Salahuddin, a State Department official contacted and constantly badgered by a desperate Jeffrey to help his mother and sister, is a wonderful supporting role as he attempts to be left alone.  Jeffrey’s character gets old fast but it’s necessary for the overall story and works for the film.  Some of the comedy can be immature and crude but it’s a comedy… it’s okay to laugh at the absurd and be amused by the ridiculous. 

What works best is that the relationship between Emily and Linda is believable.  It wouldn’t be too hard to believe they’d be real mother and daughter.  That said, it’s apparent to see that Linda has always wanted Emily to do more with her life and though you already know that the bond between them will be strengthened through the film, it’s fun to watch because the trip that Katie Dippold (Parks and Recreation, MADtv ) wrote for these actors to bring to life really works with the casting director Jonathan Levine (Warm Bodies, The Night Before) did for the film.  At the end, we see them one year later.  Has Emily grown up or was that just wishful thinking?  See it this Mother’s Day and find out for yourself.  Bring your mom… even if she doesn’t want to go!

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King Arthur: Legend of the Sword Movie Review

All the best Superhero movies seem to come with origin stories. Can you do the same for Classical Myth characters? Take a famous legend such as King Arthur, and make a fantastical story of his origins. Would it be better if you just come out and make him a Superhero along the way? This is what the movie “King Arthur: Legend of the Sword” does in its retelling of the Arthurian myth.

Back in some long ago times, when scenes set in Scotland were called England, the ruler was Uther Pendragon (Eric Bana). He was the King, and he ruled in peace over humans, and a people called ‘The Mage’. These were magic wizards and warlocks, who could control nature and animals. His brother was Vortigern (Jude Law), who was evil and willing to sacrifice his wife to gain the throne.

Uther was killed in the fighting, and he sent his little boy away to survive. The magical sword Excalibur was frozen in stone, so that none could posess it. The little boy grew up to become Arthur (Charlie Hunnam). He knew nothing of his childhood, or his royal blood, because he was raise in a house of ill repute. Vortigern was worried that Arthur would return some day, so he forced every man in the kingdom to try and take the sword from the stone.

Arthur is of course the only man who can do it. So Vortigern sets out to have a public execution Arthur. However, a loyal soldier named Bedivere (Djimon Hounsou) still serves the late King Uther, and he plans an escape for Arthur. With the help of a magic-enriched woman call ‘The Mage’ (Àstrid Bergès-Frisbey), he helps Arthur to be free. But now in return, he wants Arthur and the legendary sword Excalibur to fight against evil king Vortigern.

With a small underground ‘Resistance’, they plan ways to eliminate Vortigern. Goosefat Bill (Aidan Gillen) is an excellent archer, and can shoot the king from a great distance. But things go awry, and soon Arthur, Bedivere, Goosefat Bill, The Mage, and many others are on the run. Arthur wants no part in the group’s plans and tries to get rid of the magical sword. But since it is magical, the Lady of the Lake delivers it back to Arthur. When he can finally use it, it unlocks the secrets of his past and it has the power that can take down Vortigern. So can Arthur find the way to become England’s rightful King, and first Superhero?

That is what director Guy Ritchie hope everyone wants to know. This is supposed to be a beginning part of a series of ‘Arthur’ movies, so hang on to your bollocks. This concocted story of Arthur’s roots has very little to do with well-known stories and legends. It has a blenderized version of Arthur, Bible stories, ‘Lord of the Rings’ and even the kitchen sink thrown in. Monty Python had more ‘accurate’ storytelling in “The Holy Grail”.

Charlie Hunnam  (Arthur) is a poor-man’s Brad Pitt, and he finally warms up into this role. Jude Law is quick to chew up every piece of scenery and perhaps a few other actors as Vortigern. Every other actor does pretty good, looking like they just walked out of the Renaissance Faire. The backgrounds of the countryside are quite striking.

But the relentless motion and movement on the screen, along with the booming and blaring soundtrack, makes it a major effort to sit through and watch the movie. There is no ‘three act’ structure or any type of structure at all. It is mostly action, frantic action, major battles, speedy escapes, more frantic action, more battles, etc. So there are always a lot of things going on, but there is no time to catch your breath at all…

There are many clever sequences and nicely edited shots, but usually the sum total is just overwhelming. It might be a huge box office hit, and I hope it does well. But in the back of my mind, I would like to slow down a bit and rewatch Disney’s “Sword and the Stone”.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Movie Review

The Master of the Marvel Mix Tape is back. Yes, Peter Quill  and his gang of misfits have returned to the movies. “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” takes another step into the wilder side of Marvel’s never-ending stream of comic book heroes. Back in 2014, the first movie introduced the characters, and now you have more time to get to know your ‘Guardians’.

Quill (Chris Pratt), also known as Star Lord, is working with Gamora (Zoe Saldana) and Drax (Dave Bautista). With them are the two creatures; a genetically-modified raccoon named Rocket (Bradley Cooper) and humanoid tree-thing, now called Baby Groot (Vin Diesel). They are hired to fight off a monster for a group of gold-colored Sovereign people. They defeat the beast and win the release of Nebula (Karen Gillan), Gamora’s evil half-sister.

But soon the Sovereign leader is after the Guardians, and they hire a mercenary team of Ravagers led by Yondu (Michael Rooker). Yondu and Quill have a sorted history going way back to when Peter was kidnapped off  Earth. Peter Quill is still looking for his father, when the Guardians meet up with Ego (Kurt Russell). Ego is an ancient being called a Celestial, and he has created an entire Living Planet based on his brain power.

Quill learns that Ego (his human-like avatar, not the Planet) is his actual father. But Quill is still upset that Ego loved his mother, but then left her. Quill wants to go along with Ego, so that he can be a semi-immortal creature, too. But Gamora is wary, and she has a right to be. Not everything is as rosy as it appears. Yondu has his crew mutiny against him, but with help from Rocky and Baby Groot, he’s back in command.

Nebula escapes and goes after her half-sister Gamora. They fight an attack each other, but they do eventually find common ground. Ego has plans, much larger than what Peter Quill can imagine. But his plans would cause death and destruction of thousands of planets. All of the Guardians, along with Nebula and Yondu, team up for a good old-fashioned fight to the finish. Ego is immortal and all-powerful, but he still has some weak spots. If the crew all work together, can they find the answers in time?

Marvel scored really big with the first ‘Guardians’ movie, and now they have a chance to double-down on the crazy fun of these characters. There is such a high-energy spark within this group that the easy dialog and funny situations just are a joy to watch. Each characters get a little time to develop more and become deeper and more intense. Some are real standouts, such as Yondu. His character was not much more than a cameo in the first movie. But here Michael Rooker really gets to make fantastic impression.

 

All the actors are great and well cast for the roles. The most fun is to see Kurt Russell coming back into movies big time, and this role for him is just icing on the cake. Baby Groot is such a little huggable sapling, that every time his image is on screen, you just want to say, “Awwwww”.  Quill is still clever and snarky, Gamora is strong and stoic, and Drax is a huge mountain of power, with a big soft heart.

The movie is full of pop culture references. Lots of things are brought up, such as Pac-Man, Cheers (the TV show), Knight Rider (the TV show) and David Hasselhoff. There are again lots of Marvel cameos, like Howard the Duck, Cosmo the Space Dog and (of course) Stan Lee. There are a few celebrity cameos: Sylvester Stallone, Ving Rhames, and Michelle Yeoh.

Yes, the “Guardians of the Galaxy” have come back, and they are saving the Galaxy again. As Rocky says, “We can really raise our rates now”. It seems that they have raised the quality standards, too. Hey, and it can also be found in 3-D and in IMAX format, which actually makes for Greater Guardians!

Free Fire Movie Review

Free Fire is another terrific A24 release.  They seem to be cornering the market on must see films.  With outstanding and unique movies such as Room, Locke, The Lobster, The End of the Tour, American Honey and the 2016 Academy Award winning best picture, Moonlight, all which were well received when released, it seems A24 isn’t afraid to take a chance on something out of the norm… and we’re all the better for it.

Much in the same way that Pulp Fiction captured its audience by being surprisingly and overwhelmingly unconventional, Free Fire does that same thing.  If people are telling you to see this film, as I am now, listen to them.

It’s a fun movie with characters that are so well defined they grab you right away and you never once want them to let you go… and they don’t.  The acting is unbelievable.  The talent who worked from this uncommonly witty script was perfectly cast, never dropping character or ever releasing you from the story they’ve pulled you into until the credits roll.

Sharlto Copley and his group play gunrunners selling guns on the black market.  He is almost the singular reason to watch this film.  His Vern is the epitome of the word coward yet he hides behind a thin veneer of self-possessed hooligan that anyone can see straight through.  On this night, they are selling guns to an IRA buyer by the name of Chris (Murphy) and his group.  They are led into an old warehouse to meet Vern by a well-dressed, slick talker named Ord (Hammer) who sets the rules for the meeting.  Not long into the meeting… something goes wrong.  Once this happens, the film becomes a free-for-all where ridiculously hilarious words are exchanged as the two groups begin to also fire at one another.

Not wanting to reveal too much of the plot to encourage your interest in seeing this than there needs to be, I will say that if comedy plus action is your thing then there’s no way you can go wrong by giving this movie your full and immediate attention at the theatre today.  Armie Hammer is outstanding handling the dialogue with his brand of dry humor. 

Brie Larson, the only woman in the cast (and don’t think that isn’t addressed) who tries her best to calm the situation, gives the film that ladylike touch of femininity only a brave yet tender woman can bring.  I don’t have the space to tell you about everyone else.  There isn’t one character who’ll disappoint.

I can’t say enough about Free Fall and I do realize that I’ve barely said a thing but you’ll have to trust me on this one… this is insanely funny!  It’s a powerfully strong comedy that centers around an epic shootout where the characters screaming insults back and forth escalate the situation to the point of being barbaric.  It’s genius.  There are so many erratic, off the wall moments in this film that you’ll be turning around planning on seeing it a second time so that you can catch all the ones you missed.  Well done Ben Wheatley and Amy Jump for this magnificent movie.