Tag Archives: Movies

At the Movies: The Dark Tower

darktower1.jpg

Among author Stephen King’s more whimsical stories (in as whimsical Stephen King tends to get), The Dark Tower follows young Jake Chambers (Tom Taylor), a troubled young boy with ominous visions of a tower keeping evil from spreading unchecked in the world, children being tormented by the Man in Black (Matthew McConaughey) using their essence to destroy the tower, and a mysterious Gunslinger (Idris Elba) who can stop this Man in Black from destroying the tower. The Dark Tower follows this plot-line pretty religiously, but this movie is a case of the journey being much better than its destination.

We establish everyone believes Jake to be troubled, and rightfully so. His father died in a fire, his mother is now smitten to a man seemingly trying to get rid of him as quickly as possible, and his constant visions of the Dark Tower is driving his mother into depression. However Jake knows deep down inside he isn’t crazy, and he begins seeing his visions in real life.

People with lose fitting skin seemingly wearing it as a costume are hunting psychically gifted children to harvest their energy to destroy the Dark Tower protecting infinite Earths. During a daring escape, he follows his visions to a strange house that transports him to a different world: one broken by evil forces. It isn’t until he finally finds the Gunslinger does he know his visions are true.

Truth be told, most of the power this film holds is in the fast developing relationship between Jake and the Gunslinger once you slog past the rather slow intro. Their journey to battle the Man in Black hits a pretty by-the-numbers route through the film’s middle segments. Granted, the action scenes and locales were cool haunted locations, a strange amalgamation between magic, technology and the Old American West.

The Man in Black, who really should just be known as McConaughey with dyed black hair, played it with very little enthusiasm. It felt he put more work into those Lincoln commercials they he did with the albeit very simplistic Man in Black. He has no ulterior motive other than being an evil prick bent on world domination. He has totally dominion over all men, conveniently except for our Gunslinger and to some degree even Jake.

darktower4.jpg

The movie comes to something of a halt once we reach the climax, the finale duel between the Man in Black and the Gunslinger. While certainly CGI filled, its conclusion filled me with this flat sense of “meh”. On the one hand, I had enjoyed the film up this point. On the other, I had wondered if this was really the end. I found myself enjoying the fantasy world they were inhabiting more so than the people in it. Frankly, I didn’t give much a shit about them to be honest. I was more sad we couldn’t spend more time amalgamating modern New York into the twisted vision of mid-Earth, but I’m good with what I got.

darktower5.jpg

The Dark Tower isn’t quite as epic as it hopes to be, even if what’s at stake is the fate of multiple Earths. It feels flatter than it does appropriately epic, which it’s set-piece moments certainly called for. Elba played the quite straight man well enough, Taylor played the precocious child-hero well, and McConaughey could’ve been anyone else really. In fact, I spent a decent amount of time going through a roster of alternate villains who could’ve really provided the character the presence it sought. Maybe this one was a job for Mel Gibson? Certainly was fire and brimstone enough.

I had gotten this vibe that they wanted to leave enough room open for a sequel, but I feel pretty confident this one’s wrapped up. The Dark Tower was a fun romp but didn’t really leave me wowed. I wanted to be, the idea seemed cool, the stakes were plenty high, and Elba did a good job being a gun-slinging badass. Just a shame none of it really added up.

I think a lot of people are going to shit on this film, which is not totally fair. The Dark Tower was a lot of fun in spite of a few things, and I’m grateful it aimed high trying to cram quite a bit into an hour and a half. Something shit like, oh I don’t know Transformers still hasn’t learned. For that, I give The Dark Tower a thumbs up at least.

darktower2

Pic Sources: http://www.thedarktower-movie.com/site/galleryhttp://stephenking.com/darktower/

At the Movies Double-Feature: The Emoji Movie and Valerian and the City of Thousand Planets

emoji1valerian1

Every summer there’s always those movies. The ones where you ask yourself, “why?” For fun yeah but, like, why this? Movies cost a lot to make, so you would think it since it takes a ton of effort on the part of animators and so many others, that. I wouldn’t be asking for much for it to be decent right? So as it is every summer, there’s the turd. The Emoji Movie is that turd.

The movie revolves around Gene, who is supposed the “meh” emoji. He’s not like the other emojis where their faces are set and don’t ever change. Gene, on the other hand, goes through all kinds of faces. He just doesn’t want to be a “meh” emoji. At first it caught my attention and I wanted to see where they were going with it. But 20 minutes into the movie and I just so badly wanted something to happen.

The plot of the movie involves all the emojis living in a phone, and Gene discovers the owner, Alex, is planning to resetting his phone, deleting everything. Now when I saw the previews I was excited thinking it would be funny and we would get a chance to see how emojis live day to day life in this fantasy world. I mean, isn’t that at least sort of the point for these movies?

Anyway fuck it, the film was a waste of money. I could say more but honestly what’s the use? The Emoji Movie makes it seem like the writers ran out of ideas and out of random they decided to make an emoji movie with no good story to go with it. I’ll give it the animation was decent but I feel bad for the people who had to animate a script my niece would’ve done a way better job with. That’s it, that’s what I have to say about The Emoji Movie.

As for Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, just like The Emoji Movie, was decent to watch because of its fancy visual effects. For the plot, it felt very poor plus the acting wasn’t there either. It all felt a bit goofy when the actors were trying to be serious. Either be willing to have fun or be serious, but don’t try to sell me whatever this was.

If the storytelling was a bit more thoughtout I believe it could’ve been great. Both Rihanna and Cara Delevingne are trying to make a stamp for themselves as actresses but they have a long way to go still. Rihanna’s scenes were too short and Cara just had that “I want to laugh look” while trying to be serious at nearly all times. The only part that seemed decent was at the point they were trying to sava Cara from being eaten.

Valerian kinda obviously has a Star Wars vibe going on, which was something I think sorta saved this movie for me. I don’t like giving spoilers so this is all I’m saying about the films, but honestly I gave you as much details as the films really gave me. They’re both entertaining movies to a degree thanks to their looks but beyond that they both have horrible plots.

 

At the Movies: Dunkirk

dunkirk1.jpg

Christopher Nolan’s latest film Dunkirk recounts the invasion of Dunkirk, France between May 26 to June 4th 1940 during the Second World War. It was the evacuation of Allied forces from France when the German war machine was ravaging Europe. Dunkirk captures the frantic, near hopeless struggle of the British troops and civilians scrambling to rally a defense and evacuation plan from a crushing Luftwaffe bombing raid.

First off, the best way to see the film is in 70mm if possible. Why 70mm and what even is 70mm? Without the elaborate cinephile explanation, it’s the version Nolan would want you to see. Which makes sense since so much of the film are sweeping shots of massive landscapes, intense aerial battles then sudden shifts to claustrophobic environments made tighter thanks to the format.

Dunkirk isn’t a summer blockbuster like so many of this year’s films. It does give the appearance of one with it’s beautifully shot scenes and tense action moments. However it doesn’t linger on the violence long. Violence happens quickly and suddenly then the audience is pushed onto the next situation without too much reflection on it. Masterful sound editing really drove home the terror of the bombing raids, and the helplessness the infantry felt against bombs being dropped.

dunkirk5

It’s important to remember Dunkirk was not a terribly heroic moment for the Allied army and the movie conveys that clearly. There were themes of heroism and sacrifice to be sure, but they are subdued. Dunkirk is more concerned with showing the wide-scale destruction and cost of battle than the usual war-film tropes of ham-handedly preaching duty, heroism, or attempting to shift the narrative from a historical piece then to a set of improbable action set-piece moments.

There really isn’t a single story to track but instead a collection of smaller stories interwoven into the battle: a father and his two sons answering the call to aid in the evacuation attempt; two ace pilots attempting to stave off the Luftwaffe air units; a deployment of young soldiers attempting to survive mentally as well as physically against not just the enemy but against panic-induced soldiers within their own ranks.

All these stories intertwine together and are even called back later in the film subtly thanks to wonderful sound and visual editing that Nolan’s production company, Syncopy, has become well known for. But you won’t find yourself getting too attached to any of the characters, as Dunkirk doesn’t spend too much time concerning itself with singular characters but instead the bigger picture at play.

At times it may be hard to feel involved with the movie as it dwells perhaps a bit too much on the larger picture. A great deal happens within the movie’s hour and 46 minutes run time, from start to finish. Some audiences may be turned off to the fact that a lot will happen and at times it can be hard to make sense of it all without much tying you emotionally, but the film resonates in a much stronger way through its masterful use of sound and perspective. Nolan found a way to deftly tell a story of bravery without lecturing on it.

Pic Source: http://www.dunkirkmovie.com/

 

Thanks for reading, here’s that damn Avengers: Infinity War trailer

We’ve been waiting since 2008 for this to come and we’re almost there: we’re a year away from Marvel’s Infinity War. For too long have we seen Thanos sitting on his ass, now it’s time for him to do something…just as soon as we get done with a Thor and Black Panther movies first, which are looking pretty good too.

Enjoy your Sunday, here’s some stuff you might’ve missed from last week.

At the Movies – War for the Planet of the Apes

wftpota5

War for the Planet of the Apes is the grand crescendo to what started as a prequel trilogy to 1968’s Planet of the Apes, painting a portrait of exactly why the apes came to power and how humanity lost its position at the top of the food chain. Few reboots really work out as well as their originals. 2011’s The Thing, 2014’s Robocop, the majority of Alien-themed films from Ridely Scott lately, hell there was even the 2001 remake of Plant of the Apes with Mark Wahlberg and Tim Burton (which was universally panned) all come to mind just for a few examples.

However, 2011’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes really shifted the franchise from man-against-ape in a semi-heroic struggle to a sympathetic tale of the apes struggling to survive amid humanity’s self-destructive spiral into extinction. War begins shortly after Dawn of the Planet of the Apes with Caesar (Andy Serkis) still managing the fallout of Koba’s rebellion. Apes have defected into human ranks out of both fear of Caesar’s punishment and for fear of the well-armed humans, who have begun an all-out assault against the apes. Caesar, despite his best efforts, is losing his grip on his beloved home he’s fought so hard to keep.

The Caesar we meet is much older, stone-faced and shorter tempered. Battling against the humans and the guilt of Koba’s death still weigh heavily on him, taking away much of the bright-side-of-life he once looked upon. Instead he realizes he shares more in common with Koba than he ever dared realize. This becomes most apparent than ever when Caesar is confronted by The Colonel (Woody Harrelson), a relentless military leader who ruthlessly hunts the apes with great efficiency.

The Colonel’s special forces are a threat the apes have never faced, and Caesar quickly finds himself outmatched. Frustrated from suffering horrible losses, Caesar wages a reckless campaign against The Colonel joined by his loyal friends Maurice (Karin Konoval) and Rocket (Terry Notary). In the midst of this we meet two new characters: the curiously eccentric Bad Ape (Steve Zahn), a feral ape who learned to survive on his own and speak English by mimicking humans; and a mute child, Nova (Amiah Miller), who initially orphaned because of the apes, is put into Maurice’s direct care.

 

 

wftpota3

Bad Ape in particular, who has inside knowledge of The Colonel and his military forces, turns out to be the most wonderful surprise for the film. He acts both as comic relief, in some of the most charming scenes in the film, and as something of a revelation to the apes that they aren’t the only intelligent apes around.

War for the Planet of the Apes is unapologetically bleak for both parties. The apes have never faced a force so overwhelming, and the humans continue to fight a losing war against nature and themselves. Woody Harrelson’s Colonel, while a menacing, really isn’t the true enemy in the film, though he does his best to provide the tough-guy-military vibe. Instead, it’s always been Caesar and his development, in this case becoming his own worst enemy. What Caesar goes through is what his people go through, as he is very much their soul. And in this case, he suffers. A lot.

wftpota2

War for the Planet of the Apes isn’t a summer CGI, slug fest crescendo many might’ve expected from the name and trailers, myself included. Instead it’s a surprisingly thoughtful journey. Caesar, at wits end on how to keep his people safe, is willing to compromise his own judgement in the name of revenge. The humans don’t feel as relatable as Gary Oldman’s and Jason Clarke’s struggle in Dawn, though it is revealed The Colonel is sympathetic in his own right. Ultimately this film is firmly a documentation of the apes’ struggle.

War for the Planet of the Apes is a terrific send off to a very terrific reboot trilogy. This isn’t the end of the franchise though, with word a fourth film is already in the works without director Matt Reeves (who helmed the last two films and is now tied to Ben Affleck’s The Batman). The revelation of Bad Ape subtly changes the game since future sequels can explore the possibility of ape societies that developed away from Caesar’s more benevolent influence, itself leading more into the 1968 original and how humanity falls into ape enslavement.

People may still be riding the Wonder Woman high from a blockbuster perspective, but you would be doing yourself a disservice if you chose to ignore this very powerful film. On the surface it looks like nothing more than a movie about very realistic looking intelligent apes fighting humans, but truly it’s a desperate journey of two different societies on two completely different trajectories. By the end, we are left wondering if humanity’s decline was even something to mourn.

wftpota4wftpota1

Pic source: http://www.foxmovies.com/movies/war-for-the-planet-of-the-apes

At the Movies – Transformers: The Last Knight

transformersknight3

I can’t remember much of Transformers: The Last Knight, and that may be one of the kindest things I can say about the movie. The franchise must have hardcore fans somewhere because Michael Bay keeps being given a job. The Last Knight also earns a distinction for being the worst reviewed film in the franchise, which is a tall order given the dumpster fire that was Revenge of the Fallen. Or Age of Extinction. And to a lesser degree Dark of the Moon, which was kindlier reviewed. Point being, the franchise hasn’t had any highs since it started in 2007.

Optimus Prime is dead in space conveniently hurtling toward Cybertron. Upon landing he is quickly brought back to life and meets the evil Quintessa, who has taken control of Cybertron. Of course Optimus, being the paradigm of good, refuses to bend to her will. She corrupts his spark and makes him the evil Nemesis Prime, complete with a totally rad, evil red scar. Along the way we meet Mark Wahlberg, who insists on calling himself Cade Yeager, who finds himself inexplicably back in the fracas after running into Bumblebee again, essentially the series’ theme-park tour guide through the madness that is Bay’s ongoing arc.

There’s Sir Anthony Hopkins as Sir Edmund Lennox, the naughty old man who introduces the legend of King Arthur and the fact it was Autobots that had given King Arthur the legend of his sword and power he wields in legends. He attempts to guide the young Vivian Wembley (Laura Haddock) through her destiny of ending a war between the Autobots and this tremendous threat from space or something. To be honest this is where I began to drift a little.

transformersknight1

I do have a question, why does Michael Bay insist on finding lookalikes to Megan Fox still? Especially if they’ve supposedly settled their beef that started during filming of the original Transformers. I mean they’re slightly different, then there comes scenes where they put on make-up that make them look just like her. Anyway, Vivian discovers she has ties to the Witwicky family line, which makes her powerful for some reason because it turns out the family line is of royal linage. To that point, if the Witwickys are so great, where did Sam go? Are we so mad at Shia LeBouf we can’t even acknowledge him in this shit?

It’s probably not fair I’ve been pooping on the movie to this point. Why don’t they just let Shia have one more go at the series, I mean how much worse could it really get? I did have a great time watching the loads of explosions, especially the extraordinarily extra finale where a planet fell into another planet for what felt like an hour. To that credit, Michael Bay does have a way of making a symphony out of the madness that is the constant explosions.

There’s going to be another film, which really shouldn’t be much of a surprise since they kept making more after Revenge of the Fallen. They have more planned until 2019, with a Bumblebee prequel coming then another full-fledged entry then maybe another. Much like the Marvel films, you’ve either bought into the madness or you’re just as perplexed as me how they keep paying for this shit. To the film’s credit, the special effects and myriad of actions sequences keep this movie somewhat interesting, especially if you get solidly stoned before coming in.

By the way, why the fuck does Michael Bay insist on making these movies three fucking hours long? I fervently believe Transformers would be looked on much kindlier if he could wrap this up in an hour and 45 minutes, tops. Look I’m going to be real, if you keep watching these movies just watch the original The Transformers: The Movie from 1986. It’s so much better.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Pic source: http://www.transformersmovie.com/gallery

At the Movies – Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice

There’s some minor, minor spoilers involved in this article but I largely stay as vague as possible so you can experience the film for yourself. So shit gets put out there, and might ruin your enjoyment, but I feel confident in saying the minor spoilers I reveal won’t damage an already damaged movie.

From the onset, it’s clear what Batman/Superman wants to accomplish: it wants to reach The Avengers’ level in a third of the time. DC has tried for years to find superheroes the public can embrace as they do Marvel’s, but so far only Batman has found that critical acclaim, and it’s not the same Batman they would prefer. Superman, DC’s golden child, can’t seem to catch a break. 2013’s Man of Steel has been the closest thing to a reprieve Superman has been able to attain, and it’s the platform on which Batman/Superman is built: WB has finally reached a level of desperation and understanding that people like Superman, people really like Batman movies, maybe Batman can finally save a Superman film.

What WB wants so badly is to have films it can just chuck characters at and make shit work. Some what in the same sense you could watch Ant-Man and still get the same sense it takes place within an established world, but embrace a new film and a new character. Batman/Superman is meant to establish that world but there’s too much incongruity. There is too much the film wants to highlight and is able to get none of it to work together. We’ve sat through a dozen Marvel films already, we get these characters already and where it takes place.

Two and a half hours is a lot to request of the audience when the film acts like it has so much to say, but says absolutely nothing. It’s especially hard when we’re introduced to so much shit, yet see none of it come together to make cohesive sense. Wonder Woman is teased throughout the film for the majority of it, but has no value or even exposition until the last possible minute when she’s meant to act as the film’s deus ex machina.

Batman/Superman tries to establish a new world separate from every single past film (except for Man of Steel which seems to act as the start of “Phase 1” as Iron Man did), and in that regards it works. Maybe that could’ve worked, but it doesn’t because we only have a grasp on Superman. The Batman of Batman V Superman is unlike what we’ve seen in previous films. The most descriptive way I can put it is Batman’s an enormous douche bag, content to resort to murder, bribery and extreme collateral damage to get the job done. Superman is naturally still a naive man-child wishing only to do good (though consistently in the film being blamed for an inexcusable amount of collateral damage deaths) and bang Lois Lane. The yin and yang element to the film is balanced by Wonder Woman, who is totally mysterious and totally happenin’, though isn’t introduced until we realize the film’s true final boss needs an extra foot in their ass.

Batman/Superman wouldn’t be so much a struggle to watch if it just stuck to its two titular heroes. Batman versus Superman, while creatively weak, isn’t a hard premise (or maybe it is, given its been in production hell for years). What is a lot to ask is to jam the film with as many characters as possible, as weakly as possible, in a hurried attempt to build an established universe. Oh shit, is that The Flash? I guess it was. Aquaman? A super fucking weak cameo, but sure whatever. Oh was that…Cyborg? Why the fuck is he here? There is a solid ten minutes where the film stops the plot entirely to let you see who else they plan to add to the upcoming Justice League film. Then just as promptly as they appeared they return to the ether, only to be brought up at the very end of the film as an inevitable need in the future in the same sense Nick Fury announced The Avengers in Iron Man.

Look, it’s cool. Let’s really take the situation in for a second. Did anyone think for a second Batman/Superman was going to be an Oscar nomination-worthy film? No of course not. It’s a summer popcorn flick porn meant to be ogled. And ogle you shall, believe me, at all the expensive looking CGI. You want explosions? Guess what buddy, you’ll get more explosions than you wanted to deal with. By the end, you’ll be begging for a still shot, as the ending credits will be the sweetest releases.

Even I can sit back, look at this wall of text, and think why the fuck did I just spend time trying to dissect a movie like Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice? What was I hoping to discover? I’m not quite sure. But again, two and a half hours is a lot to dedicate to a story with no real story to tell, no satisfying conclusion or point to it. We get our Batman versus Superman fight alright, in all of its extremely CGI’d glory, and sadly it wasn’t satisfying. Instead the film saves it’s CGI load for its final fight sequence against the film’s “real” bad guy, which devolves into a thirty(?) minute orgy of hilarious destruction.

Look, I’m not a professional. I’m some asshole sitting behind a computer, half drunk on Buffalo Trace whisky trying to understand what happened to the last three hours of the my life. I think it was best summarized by the look on my girlfriend’s face after the film. After she spent the last three months talking to me about the film, excited to finally see Wonder Woman in action. After she sat through two and a half hours of film, finally seeing the fruits of her patience. I can’t give it justice through text, but sadly I didn’t take a picture of the moment. But I think I learned from observation what disappointment objectively looks like. It’s just sad that I can’t relate to the expected.