Category Archives: Reviews

Skyscraper (2018) Review

A SEMI-DECENT (IF NOT GENERIC)

ACTION ENDEAVOR


 

Over the past several years, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson has proven himself to a very “bankable” star in Hollywood. With a failed prospect of playing for the Calgary Stampeders in the Canadian Football League back in 1995, Johnson joined the ranks of the WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) and became a professional wrestler. His fame skyrocketed during his tenure with the organization (from 1996 to 2004), winning over 17 championships reigns. While he was featured in several movie during that particular timeframe, Johnson began to increase in popularity (in Hollywood) sometime after he left pro-wrestling, starring motion pictures that would befit his deliver timing of dialogue and charismatic bravado. While he started to appeared in smaller feature film roles, it was until 2011 when Fast Five (the fifth installment in the Fast and the Furious franchise) came out and he became a much more recognizable and “bankable” lead male actor. Since then, Johnson has become a Greek god in Hercules, a legendary shapeshifting demigod in Disney’s Moana, a steadfast lifeguard of Emerald Bay in Baywatch, a CIA agent in Central Intelligence, a video game avatar in Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, and has even battle giant monsters in Rampage. Now, Johnson returns to the big screen (for his second 2018 release) as Universal Pictures (and Legendary Pictures) and director Rawson Marshall Thurber present the film Skyscraper. Does Johnson’s charismatic acting talents propel this action-based feature or does it falter underneath its cliché storytelling of larger-than-life heroism? Read more

Midnight Sun (2018) Review

A SOLID AND SINCERE

“PAINT-BY-NUMBERS” TEEN DRAMA


 

Teen movies have become a dime a dozen in the Hollywood industry of filmmaking. While it’s most a subgenre of sorts (could be various film genres), teen movies have been around for some time, with some fan favorites being produced back in 80s like Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off just to name a few. Push more into the later 2000s era, Hollywood has started to cater to the more “millennial” generation, producing feature films that appeal to the current age of teenagers. Movies like Easy A, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, The Spectacular Now, The Edge of Seventeen, The Fault in Our Stars, Paper Towns, and many others have become increasingly steadfast in the current releases for each subsequent year that follows. Even so, some more “fantastical” teen movies have come forth and held high levels of popularity with moviegoers, which are mostly due to them being bestselling “book-to-screen adaptations” as well as the current “trend” amongst the millennial generation. This includes popular series like the Twilight Saga, the Maze Runner trilogy, and the Hunger Games saga. Even in 2018, Hollywood has already churned out several teen drama feature films, including Everyday, Everything, Everything, and Love, Simon. Now, Globe Road Entertainment and director Scott Speer presents the latest teen drama motion picture with the movie Midnight Sun. Is this latest cinematic entry in the teen subgenre worth a glance or is it just another “run-of-the-mill” melodrama syrup? Read more

The Hurricane Heist (2018) Review

A TERRIBLE MOVIE THAT

BLOWS (HARD)


 

The action genre has become a permanent staple in the cinematic history of filmmaking, stylizing the high-power thrills and adrenaline angst to make for a fast-moving storytelling motion picture. Nestled in that genre is smaller subgenre of action heist features. These particular films showcase id highlight the same basic fundamentals of an action-oriented movies, but also couples the idea of some type of heist-style adventure to add more of a distinct flavor to the narrative experience. This, of course, adds a unique spin with action genre, providing enough thrills, fun, and crazy stunts to make for a creative world of pulling of a job. Such famous feature films within this category, including 1991’s Point Break, 1995’s The Heat, 2000’s Gone in 60 Seconds, 2003’s The Italian Job, 2009’s, The taking of Pelham 123, and 2011’s Fast Five just to name of few. Now, Foresight Unlimited / Entertainment Studios Motion Pictures and director Rob Cohen present the newest addition to the action heist subgenre with the movie The Hurricane Heist. Does this film find a balance between action thrills and dramatic entertainment or does swept up into its own maelstrom of cheesiness? Read more

Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018) Review

CHARMING AND FUN,

BUT INCONSEQUENTIAL


 

Back in 2015, Marvel Studios released two of its Marvel Cinematic Universe blockbusters during that summer, continuing the massive superhero extravaganza with Avengers: Age of Ultron and Ant-Man. While the superhero team adventure in Age of Ultron continued to progress the overall arc MCU story forward (further expanding on certain ideas and character motives), Ant-Man, which was director Peyton Reed, was a more smaller scale endeavor, but still produce a unique feature film. In a nutshell, the movie, which starred Paul Rudd, Michael Douglas, Evangeline Lilly, Michael Pena, and others, told the story of Scott Lang, a now freed convicted felon, of how he must defend Hank Pym’s Ant-Man shrinking technology and gets entangled in a plot heist against Pym’s villainous protegee Darren Cross. As being a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (the sixteenth film), the film, which did face a bit of a rocky road to get to production (i.e. the switching of directors from Edgar Wright to Peyton Reed), faced some criticism, but was (in general terms) received positively by moviegoers and critics, especially from the film’s cast, it’s humorous bits, and its creative CGI sequences in its smaller scaled adventure. Additionally, Ant-Man went on to garnish roughly $519 million at the box office and closed out Marvel Phase II saga. Now, three years later and after the massive success of Marvel’s other two 2018 releases (i.e. Black Panther and Avengers: Infinity War), Marvel Studios and director Peyton Reed present the follow-up adventure to 2015’s Ant-Man with the film Ant-Man and the Wasp. Does this latest superhero sequel have the right nuances to warrant a glance or is it frivolous entry in the MCU? Read more

Sicario: Day of the Soldado (2018) Review

A POINTLESS AND MESSY SEQUEL


 

In 2015, director Denis Villenue released the film Sicario, a crime thriller that presented viewers with an ambiguous tale on the subject of the unspoken war that the U.S. has with the Mexican drug cartels. The film, which featured actress Emily Blunt and actors Josh Brolin and Benicio Del Toro, focus on a FBI agent who gets enlisted by a government covert task force to bring down the leader of a powerful and brutal Mexican drug cartel. While the movie did receive some criticism, Sicario received mostly positive reviews from moviegoers and critics, with most praising Villenue’s directing for the film as well as screenplay, cinematography, and the trio of actors (Blunt, Brolin, and Del Toro) on their performance in the feature. Sicario was a modest sleeper hit in 2015, collecting roughly $84 million at the box office against its production budge of only $30 million (deemed a success by making two and half times its budget back). Additionally, Sicario went on to be nominated for several awards during the year’s award season, including three nominations at the 88th Academy Awards (Best Cinematography, Best Original Score, and Best Sound Editing) as well as three BAFTA nominations (Best Supporting Actor, Best Cinematography, and Best Film Music). Now, three years have passed since Sicario was released as Columbia Pictures and director Stefano Sollima present the quasi-sequel / spin-off to that 2015 film with the movie Sicario: Day of the Soldado. Does this feature find its gritty and artistic nuances to what made the first film memorable or does it flounder underneath its ambition undertaking? Read more

Action Point (2018) Review

NO RULES, NO BRAKES, AND

NOTHING REMARKABLE


 

Back in the early 2000s, during the heyday of Generation X adolescent years, MTV and Johnny Knoxville presented the television series known as Jackass to the world. The show, which premiered back October of 2002 (and ran for three seasons until it was axed in 2002), showcased the wild and stupidly behavior of several stars, including Johnny Knoxville, Bam Magera Chris Pontius, Steve-O, Ryan Dunn and many others, as they perform various dangerous, self-injuring stunts and pranks throughout a half-hour time slot. While the TV series was deemed a success by MTV and was able to speak to the somewhat dejected and rebellious adolescent teenagers of the time, Jackass did spark a lot of controversy with the media and with concern parents, fearing that the group’s crude stunts and crazy pranks would incite (almost encourage) their dangerous behavior. On the other side of the spectrum, the Jackass TV show did spark similar shows that followed after it left the air, including Wildboyz, Viva La Bam, Homewrecker, and Dr. Steve-O as well as three theatrical feature films (i.e. Jackass: The Movie in 2002, Jackass Number Two in 2006, and Jackass 3-D in 2010). Additionally, Knoxville, Jackass’s main star from the beginning, garnished a minor iconic status, appearing on several feature films, including Walking Tall, The Dukes of Hazzard, Men in Black II, and The Ringer. In 2013, Knoxville returned to his Jackass roots for Bad Grandpa (or Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa), a somewhat loose narrative that connects the stunts and pranks together within a story. Much like the other Jackass films, Bad Grandpa faced mixed review from fans and critics, but did received a modest return at the box office, collecting $150 million against its $15 million production budget. Now, roughly five years since Bad Grandpa was released, Johnny Knoxville along with Paramount Pictures presents the comedy film Action Point. Does this movie find its Jackass roots with today’s modern audience of moviegoers or is it a failed project that speaks to generation that has already grown-up? Read more

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018) Review

A BRAVE “DINOSAUR” NEW WORLD


 

In 2015, Jurassic World, the fourth installment in the Jurassic Park franchise, was released, bringing with it all the pomp, thrills, chills, and dinosaur adventure back to the big screen since 2001. Directed by Colin Trevorrow, the film, which started Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard and others, saw the return to Isla Nublar and the now fully realized dinosaur amusement theme park that has flourished and become a thriving business. However, when a genetically engineered hybrid dinosaur escapes from its captivity, it sends the island into a frenzy, causing mayhem to both humans and dinosaurs alike as main characters Owen Grady and Claire Dearing must hatch a plan to stop this menacing dinosaur. While some moviegoers and critics had a few issues with the film, Jurassic World received a lot of positive praise and was better received that the previous two sequel installment in the Jurassic franchise. Furthermore, the film went onto become a huge success during the summer of 2015, generating over $1.6 billion (worldwide) at the box office. The film now stands as second highest grossing of 2015, the highest grossing movie of the Jurassic franchise, and sits (currently) as the fifth highest grossing film of all time. Now, three years later, the story of Jurassic World continues as Universal Pictures and director J.A. Bayona release the film Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. Does the fifth installment in the franchise continue on the up and up after its 2015 predecessor or does this dinosaur sequel squander its success for a bloated and haphazard cinematic adventure? Read more

Incredibles 2 (2018) Review

A FUN SUPERHERO SEQUEL


 

In 2004, Pixar released The Incredibles, their sixth animated feature film. Directed by Brad Bird, the film, who had the voice talents of Craig T. Nelson, Helen Hunt, Jason Lee, and Samuel L. Jackson, followed the family of superheroes who are forced to hide their powers from society and live a quiet life in suburbia. However, Mr. Incredible (the family’s patriarch) who longs for reliving the glory days of being a superhero draws the entire family into battle with a former fan who now plots to wipe out all superheroes with his supercharged killer robot. The film went on to become a smash hit with viewers and critics alike, finding The Incredibles to be a big success at the box office with a $633 million return on investment against its $92 million production budget. The movie even went on to winning several awards, including two Academy Awards for Best Sound Editing and Best Animated feature (beating out Dreamwork’s Shrek 2 and Shark Tale). Given the success of the film, many believed that Pixar would release a follow-up sequel to The Incredibles sometime in the near future. However, Pixar decided to move on from doing a sequel, choosing instead to create other films, with Cars, Ratatouille, and Wall-E being their next sequential theatrical releases. Pixar even return several of their past film to created other sequel (i.e. Monster University, Finding Dory, Cars 2 and 3, and Toy Story 2 and 3), but still no sequel for the Parr superhero family. Now, after fourteen years since The Incredibles were released, Walt Disney Studios, Pixar Studios, and director Brad Bird finally return to the superhero world of the Parr family with the movie Incredibles 2. Does Pixar’s twentieth animated feature find its place amongst its studio’s illustrious history or does this belated sequel fall short of many fan’s expectations? Read more

Love, Simon (2018) Review

EVERYONE DESERVES A GREAT

LOVE STORY


 

As humanity continues evolve from one generation to the next, the idea of a person (male or female) being gay and attracted to an another of the same sex has always been sensitive subject to broach. While there’s no clearly defining reasoning behind it (i.e. some suggesting they were born thinking that way, while other due to a lifestyle choice that triggered it), the moniker status of being gay / lesbian has been around for quite some time, mostly (in more modern times) more developed awareness by an individual during their adolescent teenager years of self-discovery of “who am I?” identity. While it may have been a sort of “taboo” idea, being gay (in today’s society) has entered a more main stream / pop culture realm, with the idea being more generally accepted (in the public’s eye) than in years before, compromising more of a large community behind the personal identity (i.e. The LGBT – Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender). That being said, there are still individuals who look down upon the idea (due to personal differences, religious belief, etc.), which can lead to a person being ridicule and / or involving a hate crime for being gay. It’s a double edge sword to officially “come out”, fearing the worst of a person’s surroundings and the general acceptance to those close to the individual (family, friends, peers, colleagues), but, at the same time feel a sense of liberation and to finally express oneself for the first time without any false façade behind it. Of late, recent mediums on both the small (syndicated television shows) and feature films have tackled the idea of being gay through their medium of storytelling of various characters and situations, allowing to express the idea underneath a cinematic lens. This includes (but not limited too) this topic in moves and tv shows like Glee, Dallas Buyers Club, Birdcage, Brokeback Mountain, Carol, Notes on a Scandal, and most recently with the film Call Me by Your Name. Now, 20th Century Fox (Fox 2000 Pictures) and director Greg Berlanti present the latest film in presenting a person conflicted with his sexual identity with the film Love, Simon. Does this movie find its courage within its meaningful narrative or does something get lost within it’s the film’s journey of self-discovery? Read more

Hearts Beat Loud (MovieMan Dan’s Guest Review)

SWEET, CHARMING, AND

SURE PUTS SMILE ON YOUR FACE


 

“Hearts Beat Loud” is the latest feature film from indie writer-director: Brett Haley of “I’ll See You in My Dreams” and “The Hero” fame. Ahead of a well-received Sundance debut back in January – this film was picked up by the folks at Gunpowder & Sky who after touring the film at various film festivals all Spring have now begun the film’s theatrical release… It was a busy weekend where I had three other films to see but I managed to find the time to check out this film for myself along the way but before I dive in with my thoughts on the flick, here’s a brief plot synopsis for those who are wondering what the film is actually about. Read more

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