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  #61  
Old 01-28-2018, 05:20 PM
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Molly's Game- 4/10

It's a so-so biopic presented as a crime drama/thriller, with Kevin Costner and Michael Cera delivering two of the best performances. Costner plays the overbearing and demanding father, who's never satisfied with anything. His screen time is cut short, but Cera delivers one of the more entertaining performances I've seen from him in years, as the manipulative and cocky nerd.

Chastain is believable, and she does a good job of pulling off Molly's transformation, but it's not one of her best performances. She has a presence, when Molly finally decides to start running her own poker games, but I have to go all the way back to The Help to remember Chastain's last truly good performance.

With Aaron Sorkin, you know it's going to be a dialogue heavy film, but for me it's a case of trying too hard to stay true to the source material. Molly's Game falls flat during the scenes showing Molly's life growing up and her relationship with her father, and the flashbacks are real momentum killers for the storyline about Molly's rise to the top in the underground poker world.

I'm also kind of surprised Molly's Game didn't receive more Oscar nominations. It's a movie written and directed by Aaron Sorkin, featuring a real life story about a woman fighting to make her mark in a man's world, but a lot of the buzz surrounding Jessica Chastain has cooled off over the past couple of years. And unless you're interested in the inner workings of a high stakes poker game, it's hard to look at Molly's Game as a must-see film.

Insidious: The Last Key- 3/10

Lin Shaye is the only reason why I'm not going with a lower score.

It's official. Insidious is just another horror franchise that had some potential in the early stages, but now they're just churning out mediocre sequels to turn a profit. Tucker and Specs are more entertaining in small doses, and the Key Demon is not scary or intimidating. He's kind of lame, and his trick for using his key hands to basically lock someone's voice and their heart loses the desired effect to pull that squirmy reaction out of you after you see it more than once.

It's the same thing with Saw and other mainstream horror franchises, but Insidious has reached a point, where they're just content with sticking to the same formula over and again: Demon possesses random victim, demon holds the victim in The Further as a hostage, and someone (usually Elise) has to go into The Further for the big finale to save them. Rinse and repeat.

They tried to make a more emotional and dramatic film, with an in-depth look at Elise's childhood and how she grew up with her brother and her abusive father. But if you've seen one Insidious film, you know where the story's going and how things are going to play out once the demon possesses his target.

A few good jump scares, but it's clear they're trying to milk this series for another sequel or two. Towards the end, it's revealed Imogen (Elise's niece) has the power to go into The Further and fight the demons, so you have to believe they're moving things into place to set her up as one of the main characters, if they decide to move on from Shaye.

You can tell Insidious was never supposed to go past one film, because a. Elise was killed off in the first film, and b. The Last Key is the second prequel now. They have to find ways to work Elise back into the story, while her character is still alive, and The Last Key's worldwide total currently sits at $144,575,300. That's off of a reported production budget of $10,000,000, so you know it's only a matter of time before they start production on a fifth film.

The Commuter- 7/10

The Commuter features some familiar storylines for a Liam Neeson vehicle. A group of dangerous people want to harm his family, and they're out to frame him, so he's forced to utilize his special set of skills to save them. One obvious twist at the end, but The Commuter is a tense action thriller that plays a good guessing game. When Michael (Nesson) believes he has everything figured out, Joanna (Vera Farmiga) throws another curveball at him, and Neeson proves he still has some value left as an action guy.
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  #62  
Old 02-09-2018, 09:43 PM
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Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle (in 3D!)- 6/10

Kudos for the subtle nod/tribute to Robin Williams, and Johnathan Hyde is still the more entertaining version of Van Pelt, but overall, Welcome To The Jungle is good mindless fun. The comedic chemistry between Rock, Kevin Hart, Karen Gillan, and Jack Black is fantastic, but I still prefer the original Jumanji.

Welcome To The Jungle works as the big Hollywood popcorn flick, and the special effects in the original Jumanji are dated, but the '95 film had a stronger sense of emotional depth, with the relationship between Alan and his father and Alan desperately wanting to return to the 60's. And I understand the need to modernize things with the video game tie-ins and what happens, when you reach the "game over' point, but I have to give the edge to the original Jumanji for playing up the high stakes and delivering a more suspenseful finale.

The Post- 6/10

The Post follows the familiar patterns in a lot of political thrillers, with calculated pacing, and any real thrills or suspenseful moments are rooted in the enormity and high stakes behind Streep and Hanks' decisions. If she's in a high profiled film, you know it's all but guaranteed Meryl Streep will find her way into the Oscar nominations, but after watching this, I'm kind of surprised Tom Hanks didn't receive a nomination.

With everything going on in the world (namely America), it wouldn't surprise me if The Post managed to pull off a near clean sweep at the Oscars, because it's easy to pick out the parallels with today's world. Streep is portraying a woman, who has to fight to have her voice heard in a man's world, and it gets to a point, where she has to remind everyone, who's in charge. The Post also has a heavy amount of social commentary about censorship for the press. There's the ending with Nixon refusing to grant access to the White House for The Washington Post and the Watergate cliffhanger, so when you look at everything in the movie, it's easy to connect the dots to The Women's Movement, Trump's daily tantrums on Twitter, and the rants about fake news.

Proud Mary- 2/10

A lot of potential, but Proud Mary is a huge misfire, and it's easy to see why it's one of the early box office bombs for 2018. After the intro, I was almost sure they were going for a modernized blaxploitation style film, with Taraji P. Henson doing her best to emulate Pam Grier, but that's not the case here. Proud Mary is a dull action/crime drama that features just about every cliche you can think of with a story centered around an assassin working for a powerful crime family. Proud Mary predictably goes through motions, and you can see the ending coming from a mile away.

With the exception of certain parts in the finale, none of the action sequences deliver any real excitement or thrills, and Mary doesn't live up to the hype as an unstoppable killer. Henson is known for having a cocky swagger and a charismatic personality, but Mary being a bad ass is basically limited to hard, squinted stares from Henson and a lot of scowling. Danny Glover looks like he's just phoning it in for the majority of the movie, and Tom's obsession with Mary feels too forced and unnecessary.

Phantom Thread- 8/10

It's stuffy and overly pretentious, but Phantom Thread features some terrific performances from Daniel Day-Lewis, Lesley Manville, and Vicky Krieps. It's not one of his best performances, but Lewis proves he still has the chameleon-like ability to pull off another impressive transformation, playing the obsessive and meticulous fashion designer.

It's a dialogue driven film, but Phantom Thread features a strong love story, and the dynamic between Lewis and Krieps is fantastic. Woodcock (Lewis) is a demanding and condescending jerk, but Alma (Krieps) is determined to impress him, so she can prove she's worthy of living up to Woodcock's high standards. Alma and Woodcock share a toxic relationship. Alma refuses to leave him, and towards the end, you get to see how far Alma is willing to go to show Woodcock that living a life without her is not an option.

Phantom Thread is a bit over hyped in my eyes, but it's easy to see why, with PT Anderson directing and all the hoopla surrounding Lewis' big send-off.
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  #63  
Old 05-11-2018, 04:48 AM
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Avengers: Infinity War - loved it!

Having been very disappointed with Black Panther a few nights ago I have to say that Infinity War was loads better - up there with the very best of the Marvel films imo - if not THE best!

Solid 9/10 for me!
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  #64  
Old 05-16-2018, 03:32 AM
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Hidden Figures
What a brilliant film, caught it by chance on Sky Movies. Not seen it advertised anywhere which is a shame as it was pure quality.
Enjoyed it through out and would highly recommend it. One of the best films I've watched this year.
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