Tuesday, July 31, 2018

The Count of Monte Cristo (1934)

Director: Rowland V. Lee

Writers: Alexandre Dumas, Philip Dunne, Dan Totheroh, Rowland V. Lee

Composer: Alfred Newman

Starring: Robert Donat, Elissa Landi, Louis Calhern, Sidney Blackmer, Raymond Walburn, O.P. Heggie, Irene Hervey, Georgia Caine, Walter Walker, Lawrence Grant, Luis Alberni

More info: IMDb

Tagline: An Eye For An Eye...But Three Lives Must Pay For Mine!

Plot:  After greedy men have Edmound Dantes unjustly imprisoned for 20 years for innocently delivering a letter entrusted to him, he escapes to get his revenge on them.

My rating: 6.5/10

Will I watch it again?  Nope.

It's OK.  It's got that stagy quality you'd sometimes get from epics of this era where the acting is sometimes melodramatic to a fault.  The sets and costumes look great, though.  The picture was never dull so it's got that going for it.  It's not a very rousing rendition of the classic Dumas story but I couldn't help but think that if this picture were handled by Warner Bros. instead of United Artists and then putting some better actors in the leads (like Basil Rathbone and Claude Rains), then you'd have a much more enjoyable movie.  Donat does OK but he's not bringing the vigor and charisma I think this character needs.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018)

Director: J.A. Bayona

Writers: Derek Connolly, Colin Trevorrow

Composer: Michael Giacchino

Starring: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Rafe Spall, Justice Smith, Daniella Pineda, James Cromwell, Toby Jones, Ted Levine, Jeff Goldblume, BD Wong, Geraldine Chaplin, Peter Jason

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Life finds a way.

Plot: When the island's dormant volcano begins roaring to life, Owen and Claire mount a campaign to rescue the remaining dinosaurs from this extinction-level event.

My rating: 7/10

Will I watch it again? Probably.

This is just as dumb as JURASSIC WORLD (2015) but it's just as good, too.  Stupid shit happens in this movie that defies screenwriting gymnastics but it doesn't matter.  The dinosaur action is great and it's a lot of fun and that's what this franchise is supposed to be all about.  The first half is on the island and the second half is in Northern California.  There seems to be a lot more dinosaur action in this one than the last one but then it's been three years since I saw that one.  Goldblum isn't in it much but he always brings it so I'll take what I can get.  There's a delicious tease at the end for the next film.  It's too bad that this franchise will never see an 'R' rating.  I'm sure a lot of fans would love to see what they could do with no restrictions.  I'd be upset with myself if I didn't say how great it is to see Ted Levine on the big screen again.  That guy should be in everything.  And one more thing, apparently Claire discovered better shoes to run in. 

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

The Dictator (2012)

Director: Larry Charles

Writers: Sacha Baron Cohen, Alec Berg, David Mandel, Jeff Schaffer

Composer: Erran Baron Cohen

Starring: Sacha Baron Cohen, Anna Faris, Ben Kingsley, John C. Reilly, Sayed Badreya

More info: IMDb

Plot: The heroic story of a dictator who risked his life to ensure that democracy would never come to the country he so lovingly oppressed.

My rating: 6.5/10

If you saw the trailer then you got a good deal of the good gags but you MUST see this for the truly outrageously hilarious shit.  I about lost it when Cohen is attached by Busty Heart's massive mammaries.  The scene lasts about two minutes and it's one of the funniest things I've seen in a long time. 

As it progresses the fight gets wilder.  There's a spoof of the axe and the door scene from THE SHINING (1980) and if that weren't enough, they even go for a RAGING BULL (1980) reference that had me in tears.  There are about three or so great belly laughs but it's the little gags that suffer.  There aren't that many good ones outside of what you see in the trailer.  I was even often bored which didn't make sense.  This is a silly, raunchy comedy but a lot of the jokes were weak.  It felt like they should've kept working on the script until it was a much tighter and funnier flick.  I'd still recommend it because there are some very funny and clever gags that work well enough to justify the dips in quality.  Ben Kingsley fans will be disappointed as he's in a role that doesn't bring an ounce of funny.  Any number of actors could've done that role as well (or better) as he did and that's not something I thought I'd say about that guy.  However, John C. Riley is fucking hilarious in his brief two minutes.

Monday, July 23, 2018

Grudge Match (2013)

Director: Peter Segal

Writers: Tim Kelleher, Rodney Rothman

Composer: Trevor Rabin

Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Robert De Niro, Kevin Hart, Kim Basinger, Alan Arkin, Jon Bernthal

More info: IMDb

Tagline: A rivalry 30 years in the making.

Plot: A pair of aging boxing rivals are coaxed out of retirement to fight one final bout, thirty years after their last match.

My rating: 7.5/10

Will I watch it again?  Maybe.

I had a little trepidation going in but I shouldn't have been.  It's a fun movie with a good share of comedy, thanks to De Niro and Hart, pleasant drama and emotional weight.  De Niro is great fun and he's full of energy...the opposite of Stallone.  At first I thought Stallone was phoning it in but then he's being true to his character, Henry.  Henry left the game thirty years earlier after fucking up his relationship with the big love of his life.  He walked away from the only two things that mattered to him and he's spent three decades in a blue collar job, living simply and accepting his lot in life.  When he finally does perk up and show some life, it's even more noticeable and effective.  I just wish he hadn't gone too dull for most of the picture.  The story works nicely and the performances are good.  I loved the funny business during the credits with Dante (Hart) and his sales pitches to celebrities.  They're hilarious.  I'd like to see a spinoff with Dante and his over the top shenanigans. Don't listen to the 30% Rotten Tomatoes score.  If you're a fan of any of these people then you'll probably dig it.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Sicario: Day of the Soldado (2018)

Director: Stefano Sollima

Writer: Taylor Sheridan

Composer: Hildur Guanadottir

Starring: Benicio Del Toro, Josh Brolin, Isabela Moner, Jeffrey Donovan, Catherine Keener, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Matthew Modine, Shea Whigham, Elijah Rodriguez

More info: IMDb

Plot: The drug war on the U.S.-Mexico border has escalated as the cartels have begun trafficking terrorists across the US border. To fight the war, federal agent Matt Graver re-teams with the mercurial Alejandro.

My rating: 7.5/10

Will I watch it again?  Yes.

This sequel to the excellent SICARIO (2015) does it right.  It re-teams some of the main characters and puts them in different situations which tests them and put them in a somewhat different place at the end.  Sure, it sets things up for another movie (goodie) but it does it in a way that shows that writer Sheridan isn't content with telling the same story.  Neither film relies on the other so you can watch either without feeling like you're missing anything.  I really dig the setting.  There's something fresh about it.  Director Sollima (son of Sergio) does a wonderful job in continuing in the sensibility of Villeneuve.  I dig the foreign touch given to both of these films, lending them a faint taste of artistic styling.  There's not as much action as in the first film but there are still plenty of tense moments and they're handled very well.   Del Toro has a bigger role this time and he's just all kinds of great.  Isabela Moner knocks it out of the park, too.  I'm looking forward to watching both of these pictures again as well as the sure-to-happen sequel.  

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Sicario (2015)

Director: Denis Villeneuve

Writer: Taylor Sheridan

Composer: Johann Johannsson

Starring: Emily Blunt, Benicio Del Toro, Josh Brolin, Victor Garber, Jon Bernthal, Daniel Kaluuya, Jeffrey Donovan, Raoul Max Trujillo, Julio Cesar Cedillo

More info: IMDb

Tagline: The border is just another line to cross.

Plot: An idealistic FBI agent is enlisted by a government task force to aid in the escalating war against drugs at the border area between the U.S. and Mexico.

My rating: 8/10

Will I watch it again?  Yes.

I don't know how this escaped three years ago but thanks to the sequel's trailer getting shown before just about every theatrical film I've seen this year, I had to check it out and boy am I glad I did.   It's brutal in a way that elicits realism.  You get the idea that this is probably how this shit goes down in real life.  I like the professionalism of the characters.  Every main character is very serious and very good at their job.  There's a good deal of action.  The film looks great, the shots are lined up nicely, the overhead tracking shots are a nice touch, the score is great as is all other aspects of the picture.  It's just a damn good action thriller.  An hour after we watched this one we were at the theater for SICARIO: DAY OF THE SOLDADO (2018) and it was just as good but in a slightly different way.