Friday, June 29, 2018

Sicario: Day of the Soldado - Review

In 2015, Sicario delivered a tightly wound thriller with some remarkable craftsmanship and managed to garner enough attention to warrant a sequel. A sequel that quite a few were skeptical about from the beginning and losing talent like director Denis Villeneuve and cinematographer Roger Deakins didn’t do anything to qualm those fears. However, Sicario: Day of the Soldado seems to have turned out alright, though maybe not within the same realm of success.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom - Review

At the time, the success of Jurassic World wasn’t anticipated, at least not to that extent. However, hindsight is 20/20, and the smashing numbers from the long awaited fourth installment make all the sense in the world. Take a charismatic lead actor, throw in some nostalgia for dinosaurs and a park that people want to see functioning, and then have everything go wrong is an equation that equates to a fun blockbuster in the truest sense of the word. Now, the sequel looks to capture that all again, but can it even get close or does it dawn a truly terrible turn for the franchise. The truth is, it’s somewhere in between.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Tag - Review

The concept of a group of grown men playing a game of tag for thirty years sounds like something out of a film. But sometimes truth is stranger than fiction, and Tag just happens to turn that idea into a feature length film. Fortunately, they’ve assembled a solid cast to bring this story to life, even if the premise doesn’t seem to be enough to fill a full film. A fictionalized version of this unbelievable tale should be a fun time if nothing else, emphasis on should.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Superfly - Review

In a long list of remakes, a clear line of distinction can be made between those that worth it and those that obviously missed the mark. Arguably, more often than not a remake falls in the latter category, failing to capture any aspect of what made the original what it was. Superfly is already two steps behind, as translating themes from a 70s Blaxploitation film to the 21st century is nearly impossible, and yet they still tried.

Career criminal Youngblood Priest (Trevor Jackson) wants out of the Atlanta drug scene, but as he ramps up sales, one little slip up threatens to bring the whole operation down before he can make his exit.

It’s the same old tired ‘one last score’ plot thread that seems standard for any film involving criminals of some kind. But where some films can get clever with the concept, Superfly just comes off as tired and dull. And despite of having plenty of relevant social avenues to venture down, including even touching upon police brutality in one of the movie’s decent scenes, the film lacks any sense of realism. The film lives in a dream world of extravagance, swapping out the gritty streets of Harlem for the far sleeker setting of Atlanta is the first clue that the remake is going for something entirely separate from the original outside of the title. Rather than creating an aesthetic that is reminiscent of the 70s era Blaxploitation original, Superfly goes for imagery that’s ripped straight from a music video, an area Director X. is familiar with, for better or worse. 

The only real saving grace of the film, if you can even call it that, are the performances. The young actor Trevor Jackson does enough as Priest, hardly enough to leave a huge impression however. He carries the film decently enough, with a suave demeanor and certain flair about him, but being smooth certainly doesn’t make an interesting character alone. Jason Mitchell is expectedly great in his role as the somewhat capable if not a little less diligent partner of Priest. He is easily the high point of the film, though not the only good performance. With little screentime to work with, Michael K. Williams manages to bring a menacing presence during his limited role, making one wonder if his part should’ve been expanded in some way.

Unfortunately, the action follows the same style as the glossiness of the film itself. Everything is either over stylized or repetitive in the same way that, again, a music video may be. Director X. has removed any sensible reason for a remake like this to exist. Rather than pulling ideas and placing them through a modern filter, he leaves the ideas completely out, resulting in a film that’s all modern style with no substance. 

Overall, Superfly falls more in line with the pointless remakes that have come before rather than becoming anything worthwhile. A couple of good performances in support of a decent lead in Jackson are not enough to outweigh the numerous issues with the narrative, action or tone of the film. The film is likely be lost in the shuffle of the weekend anyway, but it doesn’t help that Superfly is anything but super.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Incredibles 2 - Review

Perhaps the most in demand and most anticipated animated sequel in recent memory, if not ever, is finally here. Incredibles 2 has arrived, and after fourteen long years of waiting, it’s about time. Pixar is not necessarily fond of sequels, only producing six since 1995, and their track record with follow-ups isn’t great either, only about half of those were met with praise or box office success. The odds of Incredibles 2 living up to the original wouldn’t be terribly high if the numbers are anything to go by, but we can still hope it was all worth the wait.  

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Hotel Artemis - Review

Every once and a while a film comes along that seemingly sprung up from nowhere. Hotel Artemis just so happens to be one of those films. With little marketing until the past week or two, the film has jumped into theaters with a little bit of buzz and a really good cast. But those two things alone do not make a good movie, and unfortunately, none of the other parts of Hotel Artemis do either.

Friday, June 8, 2018

Ocean's 8 - Review

In a Hollywood that is increasingly aware of its gender inequities, it seems perfectly timed to bring back an ensemble driven franchise primed to be cast with a slew of top notch actresses. The Ocean’s franchise has never groundbreaking, but the stylized filmmaking of Steven Soderbergh elevated it tremendously as well as the stellar cast of actors. This go around, the new direction can’t quite carry that same weight, leaving the actresses to do much of the heavy lifting. Fortunately, for franchise’s sake, they are exceedingly up to the task. 

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Hereditary - Review

Horror films are very rarely the type of cinematic experiences you want go through alone, particularly the ones that are as wholly unnerving as Hereditary. A slowly building sense of dread permeates from every inch, every second of the film, creating something that, while certainly a lesson in writing, directing, and acting, should not be experienced alone. 

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Upgrade - Review

Blumhouse is an interesting production company. While undoubtedly profitable due to the sheer number of low-budget horror films they release every year, they still manage to slip in a handful of different films in that are quite exceptional. Going from an award powerhouse last year in Get Out to the miserable Truth or Dare this year is certainly a big turn. An awards run is definitely not on the table for Upgrade, but finds that sweet spot in between the two extremes.