Saturday, April 15, 2017

The Fate of the Furious (2017): Review

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weekend the newest installment of the Fast and the Furious Franchise came out and I am very glad to say this is one of the better movies of the series. I always tend to like crappy, big budget, over the top, flashy, action movies and this one satisfied what I wanted to see. I have been a fan of the Fast and the Furious movies since the first one was released in 2001. There were some mis-steps (I still don't like Dwayne "The Rock:" Johnson being incorporated into the series and he was in over acting form) and lots of the "twists" were obvious. But then again I don't go to see Fast and the Furious movies for good acting or realistic plots, I go for fun, high-jinks, rapport between characters, and car race scenes. If you plan to see this movie and enjoy the series this movie is definitely worth seeing in the theatres. You don't even have to wait a full minute into it to see the hot girls in front of cars, shot from below moment that has become a staple of these movie.

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Like the last few movie installments of this series, The Fate and the Furious expects you to remember what has happened in the previous movies and timeline as well as recognize the characters (even some who had bit parts and haven't been around for a while) one site.  I don't think it matters if you don't really remember how the characters play in, just remember that if it looks like a moment that you should get, it is a reference to the moments that have already happened. Having a general understanding of the previous movies is enough to keep it going. As the plot is just enough to keep the movie moving forward it doesn't really matter much.

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The Fate and the Furious bring back Dom, played by Vin Diesel; Letty, played by Michelle Rodriguez; Roman, played by Tyrese Gibson; Tej Parker, played by Ludacris; Ramsey, played by Nathalie Emmanuel; Hobbs, played by Dwayne Johnson; Deckard, played by Jason Statham; and Mr. Nobody, played by Kurt Russell. And brings in Charlize Theron as Cipher and Scott Eastwood as Little Nobody. Basically the team is brought together to do a job but during this job Dom turns rogue and goes off to work with Cipher. The team who is now working with Deckard (who also wants to get Cipher) to go up against Dom and prevent what Cipher has been planning while figuring out why Dom tuned.  How all of this occurs isn't hard to figure out and while watching the movie it didn't even seem like it was trying to hid anything. Although the plot was just enough to keep the movie going, I still enjoyed the process.

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I could tell that money was put into the production value, and the effects, stunts, and sequences were all very well done. I enjoyed the cinematography and how everything flowed together. The sequences where different enough that I didn't get tired of one type of shot and there was a lot going on but it was still easy enough to follow. The only real complaint that I have is that there was a bit of shaky cam work at times and tight shots but overall nothing that I found too distracting or annoying. The pacing was good.

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The acting was on par with the previous movies and overall the whole cast continues to have good comradely and chemistry. Michelle Rodrigues continues to be wooden, Dwayne Johnson continues to overact and these really stuck out with the high production value of the movie. I didn't like Charlize Theron and there seemed to be something weird going on with her face. I can't tell if it is due to plastic surgery or what she was going for but I didn't like it. She didn't seem scary or bad or interesting in anyway. She was set up to be this mastermind but I didn't get that feeling from her. I much preferred the chemistry and dynamic with Rhodes, played by Kristopher Hivju.

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Overall I enjoyed this movie and it has gotten me hyped to go back and watch the series again although I didn't rate all of the movies as highly as I did this one. It was worth watching in the theaters because the chase/ race sequences are good on the big scene and it has lots of explosions and such which were fun.

My Rating: 3-

I liked how they handled not including the late Paul Walker and liked that they didn't just ignore him not being there.

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Monday, March 27, 2017

Power Rangers (2017): Review

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***Some slight spoilers but nothing more then basic content of television show**

Ever since I first saw the preview for the new Power Rangers movie I was excited to see it. It is a combination of a big budget action movie which I love and Mighty Morphin Power Ranger television show which is a show that I watched a lot of the original series growing up. Although I used to watch the television show a lot as a child it has been a while since I watched it and I am not familiar with many of the different variations. I like that it is a reboot but that it keeps the same names of the characters. This movie went for a lot and I am sorry to say it didn't really meet the expectations of what it was going for but it was still enjoyable. It would have been nice if the plot flowed a little better but the movie tried a bit too much to go for a serious movie.

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Power Rangers is a reboot of the 1993 television show where five teenagers; Jason, played by Dacre Montgomery; Kimberly, played by Naomi Scott; Billy, played by RJ Cyler; Zack, played by Ludi Lin; and Trini, played by Becky Z, are recruited by an alien entity Zordon, played by Bryan Cranson, to become Power Rangers to save the world for Rita Repulsa, played by Elizabeth Banks. In this version, Zordon is the original Red Ranger who was fighting Rita on Earth during the time of the dinosaurs.  He sacrifices himself and buries the morphers that are the where power of the rangers come from and are responsible for selecting the next power rangers. When Rita is returned to power, the teenagers find the buried morphers which give them strength and abilities to become the new team of Power Rangers. They have to work together to connect as a team and train in order to become the team they need to be in order to take on Rita. They are assisted by Alpha 5, voiced by Bill Hader, and Zordon who has been incorporated into the computer of the space ship.

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This movie really, really tired to pull me in for an emotional connection with the characters and what they are going though. I wish that the movie didn't really do this and just went with the story as it is a about kids that find crystals and an alien ship that turn them into superhero's where they use Zords (robots shaped like dinosaurs). The first half of the movie kept trying to be a serious big budget movie but then for the last act it incorporated some of the camp of the television show but this didn't go along the same felling of the beginning and middle of the movie. I wish that it was just more camp all the way around and just went for it. It just didn't feel like the movie knew what kind of movie it wanted to be.

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There was over acting galore and there was some chemistry between the characters but it really felt forced. How the Rangers get thrown together and how they are all misunderstood by everyone around them doesn't feel genuine. The only story I connected with and thought worked was for Zack. Almost all of the interactions between the team besides the around the fire scene was just weird. I enjoyed Elizabeth Banks as Rita but would have liked her outfit to more her classic red then the green they movie went with but I understand why this change was made. She was OTT but in a good way and although she was silly I enjoyed it.

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Overall this movie was fine but there wasn't anything really memorable about it. As I am writing this I am struggling to remember specifics about the movie. This means that there was nothing that I hated or really didn't like about the movie but it means there was nothing special about it. I would have preferred if it went more tween, family, campy film with the movie but I know that it is hard to do that now days with movies where the main characters fight.

My Rating: 2-

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Thursday, March 23, 2017

Beauty and the Beast (2017): Review

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Unless you have been living under a rock you are aware that Disney has released a live action remake of their 1991 classic Beauty and the Beast. This movie will satisfy those of you who are avid Disney fans and who have been excited about this movie coming out. It was a good remake, however it is hard for anything to be unique in a remake like this of such a loved movie. Coming out of the movie all I really wanted to do was go home and re-watch the 1991 animated version which is exactly what I did as soon as I got home.

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Beauty and the Beast stars Emma Watson as Belle, a young woman who doesn't really fit into the small French town where she lives with her father Maurice, played by Kevin Kline. One day, while her father is going to a fair to sell some clocks, he is forced down a different path and ends up at an enchanted castle where a young prince has been turned into a Beast, played by Dan Stevens, by an enchantress. The Beast and his servants are under this enchantment until either he discovers love and is loved in returned, where the spell will be lifted, or until the last petal falls, where they will be cursed forever.  Discovering that her father has been taken prisoner in the castle, Belle takes his place.  Meanwhile,  a local man Gaston, played by Luke Evans, has decided that since he is the best man in the town he wants to marry Belle, the pretties girl in the town. When she doesn't want him he does what he has to in order to try win her hand and will go destroy anything in his path. Also staring Josh Gad as LaFou; Ewan McGregor as Lumiere; Ian McKellen as Cogsworth; Emma Thompson as Mrs. Potts; Audra McDonald as Madame Garderobe (the wardrobe); Stanley Tucci as Maestro Cadenza (the piano); and Gugu Mbatha-Raw as Plumette.

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The one thing that this movie has is a very good cast overall, I liked that casting of everyone and could tell that the majority of the cast were enjoying what they were doing in this movie. Although it didn't do anything unique, overall you could see that the movie was made because it wanted do justice to the animated classic.There were moments through that were forced and didn't flow well between classic lines or songs and what was different. This movie was not close enough nor different enough from the 1991 version to really shine on its own. There were moments where I really wanted the nostalgia and for it to just be a live action version of a specific scene or if it was different to make it unique or special in some way. Besides the Disney magic there was nothing special about this movie. Overall enjoyable but nothing really special. I did really like the fleshed out the backstories of Belle and the Beast. This part is handled very well, weaving in some details but not derailing from what was happening.

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Emma Watson really tried as Belle and I was impressed with her singing but she never really melded into the character, I can notice her acting throughout and she always seems to act the same way in all of her movies just with different accents.  I really enjoyed Gastan and LaFou and really think these two do did the best in bringing their characters to life. While watching them I didn't think that they were just trying to do there best to be the characters, they were actually the characters. The rest of the cast (not CGI'ed) were good but al the accents were different from each other. I did enjoy the chemistry between everyone and think that the moments between Belle and her father were great.

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The production value of this movie was fantastic and I could see all the money that was put into making it, my problem was with the choices in how things looked. The CGI was done well but the characters just looked weird. I don't think any of the main enchanted characters looked like better or real life versions of their 1991 counterparts, especially Mrs. Potts and Lumiere. I could handle Lumiere and Cogsworth better than Ms. Potts but didn't like them when they were stationary object. Mrs. Potts just looked weird all the time and I found watching her distracting due to this weirdness. I did like Chip and some out the second tier characters, such as the butler coat rack and Plumette.

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The most distracting thing in this movie for me was the Beast. I know that they were going with making him more appealing and wanting Luke Evans to be seen as a hottie, but I could thin of when I was watching him was that he belonged in Narnia. He was very much a mythical Narnia character with his overall look and especially his voice that I didn't see Beast at all in him. I had this thought way too much during this movie. Also his overall behavior wasn't brooding or in anyway unappealing or standoffish. He came across more as intellectual and aloof then beastlike. Sure he was selfish before he was turned into a beast but as a beast there wasn't anything specifically unappealing about him except that he was suppose to be unappealing and described as a beast.

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The cinematography, set design, and costuming was wonderful. Everything was thought about and effort was put into all the details. It was a beautify movie to watch and all of this production worked very well together. I loved all of the set pieces and enjoyed how the village, countryside, forest, and castle were done. The effort put into these were not wasted.

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Overall. the movie has enjoyable bits and some not my preference bits but it was good and it will be something that I will watch again. I will not be surprised when it is a hit for kids and Disney fans alike but I would have preferred for there to be a different style to it. If you have been looking forward to this coming out you will enjoy it.

My Rating: 2

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Saturday, February 11, 2017

Fifty Shades Darker (2017): Review

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This weekend for Valentine's the second movie in the Fifty Shades series was released and I am pleased to say that it was much better than the first movie. It is very much along the same lines as the first movie (the nudity, barely able to be called rated-R sex scenes, and the focus on the "kinky fuckery" or lifestyle of Christian Grey).  I enjoyed this movie more than the first one and I expect that anyone who is interested in seeing this one, has seen the first one and knows what to expect will like it as well. I appreciate that they just start right away with the movie and not spend time going over what happened in the pervious movie.

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Fifty Shades Darker continues were the first movie left off, with Anastasia Steel, played by Dakota Johnson, having left Christian Grey, played by Jamie Dornan, because she doesn't want to be in a relationship where she is a Submissive and where she is controlled by his contract. Christian decides that Ana is more important to him than his previous lifestyle and seeks to get her back. This movie focuses on their building relationship and how Christian is dealing with his demons while Ana tries to get him to open up and have an open and honest relationship. Ana also has to deal with her new boss Jack Hyde, played by Eric Johnson, who is not as congenial as he first appears; Leila, played by Bella Heathcoat, a former Submissive of Chirstian's; and Elena, aka Mr. Robinson, played by Kim Basinger.

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The previews tease this movie as more of a thriller than the previous movie and this goes along with the book by E.L. James.  While Ana and Christian are working to sort out their own stuff and relationship they are effected by those who are around them and these people create problems for the pair. However, even though this tone was pushed in the trailers it was not that strong or a big part of the movie itself. I would have liked more time to be spent on this thriller aspect of the book and I feel like the Leila part was added just because it was a large part of the book more than it being really woven into the movie. I would have preferred some of the sex scenes to be shorter or cut out for more focus on the interplay between the secondary characters. The new case members who were brought in for this film did great with what they had and could have been used to create more to the movie than just Ana and Christian. This is the book where they are building their relationship and I would have liked more from the other characters.

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Before the Fifty Shades of Grey movie came out in 2014 (read my review here: http://myreviewsbyjane.blogspot.com/2015/02/fifty-shades-of-grey-2015-review.html ) I was very much in the #NotMyChristian camp and thought that the chemistry between Johnson and Dornan was non existent but I am glad to say that it was better (still not the best) in this movie. Dakota Johnson continued to be quite flat in her affect but this did not really bother me because I was expecting it. She is on par with the previous movie. I am glad that they scuffed Dornan up as he is definitely more attractive with a little stubble and this helps to add to him being off due to being thrown from his usual in control role. These two play of each other much better in this movie and seemed more comfortable with each other but there still was not a huge sizzle whenever they were together.

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You need to be able to handle nudity and an artsy smutty feel to enjoy this movie as there are lots of sex scenes and it pushes the line between erotic Hollywood movie and soft core porn. For a movie where the main audience is older women I don't get why they show Dakota Johnson naked so much, I feel like it didn't go more than 15-10 minutes without showing her breasts. I have gotten so used to movies covering up actors during sex sense that I find it odd when they blatantly show nudity. I actually feel that this takes away from the sultriness.  There was some showing of skin from Jamie Dornan but no where near as much as Johnson.

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The production value of this movie is very high. I can see the care and effort that went into making this movie. The music is selected with care and used to augment the story. The cinematography is great. This all follows suit with the previous movie and it continues to take a more artsy approach to all the scenes.

With this movie being better than the first I am looking forward to seeing Fifty Shades Freed next year but hope they up the thriller aspect of it and not just put in the basics needed to fill the space between sex scenes.

My Rating: 2

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Monday, January 23, 2017

Arrival (2016): Review

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Going into watching Arrival I wasn't sure what to expect, I had heard good things about it but then also that it was over hyped. I found it to be somewhere in the middle. It was alright overall, nothing really special, and with CGI that was poorer that what I would expect from a movie that spent money on big named actors.

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Arrival stars Amy Adams as Louise Banks, a language expert who is brought in along with Jeremy Renner's scientist Ian Donally by Colonel Webber, played by Forrest Whitaker, to try and communicate with an alien race that has landed twelve shell shaped space ships around the world.  She works to try and figure out their language and communicate with the heptapods (what they call the aliens) while the world is trying to figure out what the purpose of the aliens arrival.  While she is trying to communicate with the aliens she experiences flashes of her life with her daughter.

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This movie was basically alright, although I don't feel like it was a truly special or unique. It focused on Louise and her process of figuring out how to communicate with the hetapods, it tried to explain her process and the basics of their language but didn't really go into it, and this movie wasn't really a suspense or thriller of any kind. To me, it was a sci-fi drama. There is no real action or suspense just the conflict of what could happen on earth if an alien species came to earth and landed in different countries around the world. There was also some conflict with in the group that seemed really forced and wasn't developed and could have been completely left out. For a alien movie it seemed really humanity based.

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I think the acting was good and I was even surprised that I didn't mind Forrest Whitaker, as I usually don't like him and the weird ways he interprets characters. In this he was a bland government man that really could have been played by anyone. The stars were Amy Adams with support from Jeremy Renner, as both of them are good actors they did well, although there could have been more chemistry between the two of them. At times, Adams was a bit wooden but overall she portrayed the stress and overworked aspects of her character.

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Although the movie was nothing special, I didn't like what it did around the hour and a half mark as it seemed like they were rushing to be able to wrap up the end of the movie and this is where the CGI gets really bad. I don't like it when CGI is used in this way as it is noticeable and distracting when I think they are going for wondrous and to make you feel like you are in the middle of what the character is experiencing.

Overall this movie is alright but nothing that I think you need to rush out and see. It doesn't really grab me or evoke emotions that I need from movies to think they are better or have a desire to watch over again. I can understand why Amy Adams was nominated for her role, it just would have been better if the movie itself wasn't so unremarkable.

My Rating: 2+

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