Jonathan Evans

Review Ant-Man and the Wasp by Jonathan Evans

 

(4 / 5)

 

Another season another MARVEL movie. I remember a time when we might only get one Superhero movie a year (if that), or at least one MARVEL movie a year, now we are at the rate of two or three a year. What the studio has done which allows itself to be maintained is stuck to style and principles but allow the correct amount of diversity and identity among its many ongoing characters. This is a genre movie like any other, we already understand the basic flow of the narrative, we need just enough surprise, variation and high level of competence to execute the project so it is enjoyable and not stagnant.

The plot of this movie is based on events that are carried over from the previous as well as a little bit of the events of Captain America: Civil War. The original Ant-Man Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) and daughter Hope Pym (Evangeline Lilly) are seeking to rescue Janet Pym (Michelle Pfeiffer) who’s been trapped in the Quantum Realm for years. However, there is a gear in the works because Scott Lang (Paul Rudd), the new Ant-Man is under house arrest.

The humor is the element that is most on-point in this movie. Not since the first Guardians of The Galaxy have I laughed so hard and consistently during a MARVEL movie. Yes, the movies have all had a generous serving of humor and none of them have been unfunny but this one especially tickled me. One particular joke about truth serum stands out.

As the title would imply in this movie is the inclusion of the character The Wasp. She is Hope Pym, she has the same shrinking powers as Ant-Man but comes with wings that greatly help in maneuvering and stingers, gauntlets that shoot paralyzing blasts and are able to expand and shrink objects they hit. She is pretty much superior to Ant-Man, but a job is always easier accomplished with more than one person so he’s along for the ride too.

Causing other problems for the heroes this time is a mysterious specter that is named Ghost. They are named so because they have the mysterious ability to phase through solid matter i.e. walls, cars etc. They wear a white costume with small red, glowing eyes, so they are mysterious and threatening and once we learn they’re the motivation they also become sympathetic. Ghost isn’t as deliciously overpowered as Hella from Thor Ragnorok, or tragic and threatening as Killmonger in Black Panther, but they are a solid character and obstacle for our heroes.

A few ties these movies have taken older actors and for the purposes of flashbacks reverse aged them. They have been working on this technique within a few movies and here we get to see it reach the pinnacle of perfection. We see Michael Douglas, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Laurence Fishburn look how they did twenty years ago with almost no sign of artificial tampering. Along with that are seeing fully grown adults be shrunk to three feet tall, a regular sized human next to a colossal sized human and even when they are shrunk down huge fat dust particles float around them. There’s also the right mixture of practical-camera effects and giant props.

With the introduction of the growing, it adds another element to the action sequences. The shrinking was also a rich element, two cars can be racing and when you shrink you can go underneath the other vehicle, now mundane objects and be thrown which become obstacles for others to traverse or even straight up block them. Also when the heroes grow the seemingly large threat is now an annoyance. Along with this Scott’s new suit was a rush job so it doesn’t work perfectly. All this abides with the “But and Therefore” mentality towards narrative and action mentality.

One of the key distinguishing elements about this movie is what I liked so much about the first Ant-Man, the smaller scale. Infinity War was such a massive project, with some genuinely dire tones that have a movie that takes place within one city, that is not at risk of being blown up and some funny humor comes as a nice change of passe.

Payton Reed has stepped into this world and characters and made it his. This is the playful, toy mentality chunk of the MARVEL cinematic universe. It is slick, inventive, colorful and fun!

Jonathan Evans

Review The Secret of Marrowbone by Jonathan Evans

Horror works best when the frightening moments are left in the blank spaces. We can have scream’s and see horrific sights but the elements that truly grip us are what we do not see or the things that go by unexplained and we are left to conjure the terrifying within our own minds. The Secret of Marrowbone uses this as the launching point to hook us as audience members and keep us watching through the experience.

A family enters a run-down old mansion way out in the middle of the countryside. The mother marks a line in the dust and says once they cross it all things before will be forgotten and this is their new start, especially Father. The family is Jack (George MacKay) the eldest at twenty years old, Billy (Charlie Heaton) the angsty younger brother, Jane (Mia Goth) the peacemaker and little Sam (Mathew Stagg). They live in the house under the name Marrowbone, fix up the house and have a fun time, one day out all of the children meet Allie (Anya Taylor-Joy). Meanwhile, the mother is getting sicker and sicker and eventually passes. If her death is known before Jack turns twenty-one the children will be put into care so it has to remain a secret. One peaceful day a shot comes through the window, Jane looks through and there is a man standing across the house, she yells, Jack runs and then it cuts to months later. This is where the movie truly begins.

Now it is months later and all the mirrors have either been removed or covered in sheets, there is a large red stain on the ceiling and they all speak of a ghost in the loft. Only Jack is allowed to venture into town for the essentials.

While in town one day he meets up with Allie and they clearly want to be together, however also on the scene is Tom (Kyle Soller) a lawyer that is also interested in Allie and is seeing to the Marrowbonbe’s affairs.

The cast is one of the most solid elements of the movie. Everyone fills a certain role but they are able to reach different emotional levels, from being passive aggressive to full rage. The standout is Anya Taylor-Joy, who brings such realized, caring nature to the performance.

Some of the most effective moments of the movie are the sequences of fright. We all know them, dark room, something’s in there, and somethings gonna go boo! But this movie times its shots very well and there is an appropriate amount of buildup to them. The most effective element is that there are moments when something can happen and all the air gets sucked out of the room for a few moments. Sometimes something does go boo, others nothing happens so we are always left guessing.

Within these moments are tender ones though, moments of the family having fun, joking. An entirely doom and gloom movie would ultimately become a purely depressing experience, contrast needs to happen.

By the end of the movie, all is revealed. Perhaps if all wasn’t it would be a better movie, but I digress. It took me a bit to go over some of the details that didn’t sit right with me immediately when everything was revealed but after going over it it does all hold up well.

The Secret of Marrowbone cuts deep by leaving you not knowing when it will cut or even what by. When it does it is sharp and efficient. It has a heart, which many horror movies lack, comes with a talented and invested cast and understands the mechanics of the genre very well.

Rating: 4 stars

Review The Incredibles 2 by Jonathan Evans

We are now in the renaissance of Superhero entertainment. Every blockbuster is a Superhero, on television, there’s plenty of choice of Superheroes from adult entertainment to kids animation. Many other toys and games as well, they are deeply embedded in our culture at this point. When the first Incredibles movie came out, it wasn’t amongst such heavy competition, when a Superhero movie came out in 2004 it had about one other Superhero movie to compete with as well as probably not another one coming out the year before or after that. Now, how does it distinguish itself from so many other movies of the same genre?

The movie picks up just about where the last one left, with some crazy supervillain, armed with a giant drill wreaking havoc on the city. The Incredibles launch into action, during the pursuit Superheros, are still illegal and the villain gets away, this doesn’t help their case. Fortunately, an enthusiastic fan of Superheroes is eager to bring them into the spotlight. He is Winston Deavor (Bob Odenkirk) the head of a flashy technology company, he’s the face while his sister Evelyn (Catherine Keener) is the idea genius that relaxes behind the scenes.

When it comes to action sequences we need the same thing that’s required in a narrative arc. We need one character with a want and then a but so therefore and then a but again and so on and so forth until it is somehow resolved. Take for example our opening action scene where Mr. and Mrs. Incredible is chasing The Underminer. He has a huge drill and is sinking buildings and robbing a bank. They need to get inside so Mrs. Incredible turns into a trampoline for Mr. Incredible, but it goes underground making is difficult for him to hang on, he gets inside but then gets sucked into the large hose he’s using to suck up all the riches, therefore he must punch his way out of the vault and so on and so forth. Along with this, it must be shot clearly, usually with wide angle shots so we see all of the characters and get a sense of their surroundings, with a few extreme wide angle shots and close-ups so we gauge the bigger scenario and see the characters reaction so we emotionally connect with them. Being that this is animation the camera is allowed to smoothly move along with the characters in long, unbroken shots that would be nearly impossible in live action. Along with all of this, we have people with superpowers so its a case of utilizing their abilities for their situation or against eachother. Director Brad Bird and his team are simultaneously enthusiastic kids playing with their toys and sophisticated storytellers, efficiently utilizing and visualing the different elements at play.

The Parr family is still just the same as they were, only with a new situation to deal with. Mr. Incredible/Bob Parr (Craig T. Nelson) is eager to get back into crime-fighting but is detoured so now must deal with the struggle of raising his family, Mrs. Incredible/Helen Parr (Holly Hunter) is ever concerned for the family but also has a passion for crimefighting and makes the decision to commit to that and trust Bob. Violet (Sarah Vowell), the adolescent with the power to turn invisible and create forcefields, she the constantly questioning her parent’s decisions as well as going through her own personal troubles, she is also my favorite. Dash (Huck Milner, replacing Spencer Fox from the first movie) is the young energetic kid that acts on impulse, add superspeed to the mix and it’s a perfect analogy. Finally, there’s little baby Jack-Jack (Eli Fucile) who in fact has multiple powers, from laser eyes, to teleport, to turning into a literal little devil.

Causing trouble this time is an entity that calls themselves the Screensaver. A plotter that wears a gas mask like mask and takes control over people through the screen using a hypnotic strobe effect. They believe the people have become lazy in this age of television and convenience, so they plan to flat out enslave them anyway. Like with Syndrome in the last movie it seems if you choose to don black and white for your costume, you are the villain.

Later in the movie, more Superheroes are introduced. The Incredibles costumes are mostly red with a sleek, minimal design to them to other heroes all have a unique silhouette and color scheme to their costume so they become instantly recognizable even if you squint your eyes. This is a sign of the clear visual storytelling that animation can allow. But it is peppered nicely with a few scenes that have a majority of the shot in black, adding a threatening nature to the mood and only allowing the bare essential information to be absorbed.

The heart of the first movie is still the heart in this one, family. The Superhero genre is about taking a common emotional problem and greatly escalating it through powers and extravagant situations. The Parr family is a like any other, they drive each other crazy, support one another and when an obstacle come they do what they can to hurdle it, like any family drama, they just have the added spice of powers and villains.

In this time of many other superheroes, the original Incredibles still stands as a slick, punchy action adventure movie with a lot of heart and maturity. But through its unique visual style and interpretation of the Superhero genre is unique among its peers, the sequel is exactly the same.

(4 / 5)

Boa Review 

The opening short revolves around food and the emotional connection we develop with it. It is allegorical and has beautiful texturing with the many different types of food is puts before us. You will most likely be hungry while watching it. Though I do believe the ending will have children more confused and asking questions that immediately understand.

(3 / 5)

Jonathan Evans

Review Skyscraper by Jonathan Evans

(2 / 5)

 

Skyscraper knows that its concept is pretty darn impractical and plays it as big and overdramatic as it can. It goes for the swooping cinematography and punchy orchestral moments to heighten it.

Let’s get the obvious out of the way first, it’s premise is about a man named Will Sawyer (Dwayne Johnson) inside a super high tech building, mercenaries invade said building, with his loved ones inside, forcing him to take down one bad guy at a time and navigate the building inside and out. Yes, it is like Die Hard. Though only in premise, the action set-pieces and other moments of the movie are different. Die Hard is the gritty grounded version of this scenario while Skyscraper is the bonkers, living cartoon.

But time for some more detail. Our first shot is looking up to the sky and seeing a crescent moon, we then move down to a house and then pull back to see it is surrounded by police cars, there is a hostage situation inside. They decide to send in the special forces, they surround the house, bust in and surround the husband that is about to murder his family, but he is holding his son! The leader Will Sawyer talks him down but he has a bomb strapped to him and detonates it. This kills the family and severely injures Will, only really causing the loss of half his left leg. The nurse that treats him is a woman named Sarah (Neve Campbell).

Ten years later Will and Sarah are married and have two children, they are now in Hong Kong for Will’s possible new job of being head of security for The Pearl. The tallest skyscraper ever built. It is a modern, vertical city that will become one of the great tourist attractions. If only the boss didnt make enemies who are now setting the building on fire and storing it with machine guns.

Being that this is Dwayne Johnson and in the opening, he survived taking a bomb just about to the face we don’t really feel to jeopardy in the situation. We know he’ll survive the movie and isn’t going to lose super bad. So this is a movie with only the illusion of stakes. All movies have the illusion of stakes but you understand my meaning.

Not much of the action is about gunfights less fighting and shootouts more like retrieving. Something needs to be turned off/on or there’s a race to get someplace. Dwayne Johnson is a big muscular man and he has punched out plenty of bad guys in his career and will probably go on to punch more. But for here, it is more about setting up the situation and navigating through it. I like this, it shows an action hero be more strategic and resourceful.

The lead is charismatic, he represents an amputee which is very uncommon so that deserves credit, the script implants things and pays them off later and there’s an appropriate amount of self-awareness to this crazed situation. But this is not a good movie, it’s just too dumb at times and there are not enough refreshing bits in between for an honest recommendation. But it could have been so much worse and less memorable so kudos for that!

Jonathan Evans

 

Review Ocean’s 8 by Jonathan Evans

(3 / 5)

When Debbie Ocean is describing her new plan for a heist to her colleague she says that she doesn’t want to rob a bank simply because that is boring. This describes her character as well as the Ocean’s movies as a whole, a simple heist in a location we all know and have seen before isn’t what these movies were conceived for. They are needlessly complicated and ambitious because that is simply more interesting and attractive.

Said job is getting into a special event and getting a one hundred and fifty million dollar necklace to be worn by a movie star Daphne Kluger (Anne Hathaway) who is hosting the event, stealing the necklace, sell it off and make a profit. Again, just robbing a bank would be so much more simple but also less interesting.

But let’s backtrack. We open with Debbie Ocean (Sandra Bullock) being released from prison and mourning the loss of her brother (who may or may not really be dead), she instantly has a job in mind. She gets in contact with her old buddy Lou (Cate Blanchette), she is enticed and agrees.

In order to pull off the job, a team needs to be assembled, each with a specific set of skills. There’s Amita (Mindy Kaling), an expert in jewellery cutting. Tammy (Sarah Paulson) who is all about shipping hot items. Constance (Awkwafina), a fast-talking, fast hand card player. Nine Ball (Rhianna), a codename for an offbeat hacker. Rose Weil (Helena Bonham Carter), a washed-up fashion designer. Each of them has a purpose to serve and fills in certain character type within the movie.

With movies about plans, a certain chunk of the movie is about explaining the plan to both the team and the audience about how it’s supposed to go. Then it is put into action and either something goes dramatically wrong, something shakes it up, or it only seems to have gone wrong but really it all went off without a hitch. There wouldn’t be much suspense if all went smoothly, at some point, there has to be a piece that isn’t going as they intended.

Director and writer Gary Ross brings a sharp, smooth mentality to the choreography of the camera movement. It slickly moves through the sets and with the cameras and with mostly long takes with a few snappy closeups. This is the way to shoot a movie like this, the characters are confident and talk fast, you want the language of the camera to reflect the well thought out and choreographed nature. If it was handheld and shaky then it would give a rocky, chaotic feel it, which would be a mistake.

You don’t need to see the other Ocean’s movies to enjoy this one. There is a certain amount of emphasis on Debbies brother and if you are at least aware that there are other Ocen’s movies then you’ll get it but seeing them is not mandatory. I myself have only ever seen the first movie (Ocean’s 11) and found this movie stood on its own merits fine.

This movie seeks to entertain by doing things a little grander and with more pizazz. It reinvents nothing and accomplishes nothing to great feats. But there is talent in front and behind the camera and both gel well enough to warrant a watch for fun’s sake.

 

Review Hereditary by Jonathan Evans

“I was watching Poltergeist last month, I got a question. Why don’t white people just leave when there’s a ghost in the house?”

-Eddie Murphy

(1 / 5)

This isn’t the main problem, but it is one of the many that plagues Hereditary.

Horror is a medium that at it’s best reveals our deepest insecurities and troubles as people. This movie means nothing and simply seeks to gross and horrify us with, the images and sounds it slaps us with.

We open with a house and inside it is a family that is preparing for a funeral. It is the grandmother who has died and the mother, Annie, is dreading the ordeal. Meanwhile on the side is her daughter Charlie (Milly Shapiro) that keeps to herself, draws in her sketchbook and makes a clicking noise with her mouth. The son Peter is a pretty normal, apathetic teenager. We learn that Annie’s mother was very nice at all during her life and won’t be missed now she’s passed. But just because she’s passed doesn’t she’s done tormenting her daughter and grandchild and all sorts of strange things start happening from here on.

You get to a point where you’ve seen enough movies to have an understanding of typical genre movies. In comedy, you tell when there will be a misunderstanding or a bit of slapstick. Horror is one where you know if there is blank space on the screen then something will move or jump out, or when there will be a build-up to something and nothing will happen only for the character to take a breath and that is when the thing goes boo! This movie is guilty of being predictable. I could tell how the scenes were going to play as soon as they started.

For some of it you don’t know where it’s going then you don’t care because all it’s doing is stitching one gross-out, disturbing moment with the next to give you a tapestry of horror. It doesn’t, it’s just annoying.

In the recent years, we have gotten some original voices and experiences in horror movies. Like, Don’t Breathe, Mother!, Get Out, A Cure for Wellness, A Quiet Place, Unsane and The Babadook. All of these movies tap into a core fear that individuals feel or the problem of people as a whole and have a whole vision. These movies will be remembered, this one will be forgotten.

It is easy to overlook the acting when the concept doesn’t work or the writing is garbage. But this movie does have actors that genuinely good performances. Toni Collette as Annie truly and clearly conveys terror across her face, I believe she is scared in these situations. Likewise, Alex Wolff has to be a few things over the course of the movie and does them all well. What a shame that these talented people and all their effort go into a big pile of garbage like this.

 

This movie is not boring, it is however frustrating. Frustrating in how it uses the most simple, stupidest tolls to scare you, when it doesn’t, it just goes boo! Frustrating that all these actors and crew had to waste their time on a rotten project. Horror is a brilliant genre that can reveal things about ourselves, not this, it’s just a waste.

 

Review Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom by Jonathan Evans

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom works by being a true blockbuster and tapping into what makes them great watches. Simple and engaging characters that move from one set-piece to the next. Along the way we see wild images and feel a gamut of emotions and leave feeling satisfied.

(5 / 5)

I enjoyed the first Jurassic World movie enough but found there were many pointless elements, plot points that didn’t make any sense and some wasted potential. It did, however, make a lot of money so a sequel was inevitable. But they announced that J.A. Boyegar was taking over the reins as director. From his Gothic horror movie of The Orphanage to Disaster movie The Impossible and the best movie of last year with A Monster Calls he has quickly built-up a reputation as one of the top filmmaking talents. His movies cut deep into human emotions, whether they be fear, endurance or dealing with reality they are emotionally driven. He adapts himself to using some similar shots that we know from this established franchise (one particularly iconic helicopter shot) and more chatty and joky characters and has made something him and is part of a franchise.

Now for the synopsis. Jurassic Park was meant to be a park where they brought Dinosaurs back from extinction and the people could experience them. This was obviously a bad idea but lent itself to a great scenario so they did it anyway. It went badly. The Dinosaurs got free and now run the island, that is the current situation, but the volcano at the center of the island is about to erupt which will wipe out all the Dinosaurs. Some say they should be saved because they are living creatures others say they can never be controlled and are man-made so be left to their fate. A special group is financing a rescue of two of each species and they recruit Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) from the last movie to assist, she then brings in Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) also from the last movie because of his expertise and connection with Blue the Raptor.

From here on the movie strings together set-piece to set-piece and thematic elements into a whole. It isn’t at the non-relenting passe of Mad Max: Fury Road but it is brink and with a bountiful serving of variations. There are suspenseful moments of having to sneak around, chases, and confined situations of claustrophobia.

There seems to be a resurgence, since the release of The Force Awakens, of using practical effects and prosthetics again and I am so happy to see it. C.G.I. is a wonderful tool but it is not the answer to all, practical effects give weight and believability to the creatures. C.G.I. ages very quickly and a real, well textured and painted model or puppet won’t. As well as that it gives the actors something to genuinely act with.

There is an understanding that Dinosaurs are the biggest predators that ever walked the Earth and to be around one that eats meat, is one of the most dangerous things you can do. It is quickly established with the dread the characters talk about them, the fear that flashes on their faces and a few selective devourings of characters. Even the herbivores are so large that if you get in their way, you will be flattened.

When development of a movie begins there is what is called “Concept Art” these are pieces of art that seeks to give a feel for the tone and mood of the movie and give the filmmakers something to work towards visually. They are usually expressive and quite beautiful. Through the movie, you can see moments in which were clearly taken from a piece of illustrated art and are some truly beautiful and haunting moments of cinema.

Thematically the movie is focused on the original movies concept as well as going further to Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein (she even gets a cameo in the movie in the form of a painting) and that is the responsibility of creation.

This movie is a reminder of what a great experience you can have sitting in the seat of a theater and seeing the images on the big screen and hearing the loud sounds all around you. It respects the original material and boldly pushes it forward and will have you in awe and tremble in fear of Dinosaurs.

Jonathan Evans

Review Solo: A Star Wars Story by Jonathan Evans

(3 / 5)

 

The problem with any long-lasting franchise is that eventually, all aspects of the characters will have a light shined on them. We have seen so many details revealed about Spider-Man and Batman, their school years, interaction with their parents, childhood memories and traumas. Other movie characters are exempt from this, they come, make their impression and their story ends without having to know every facet of their existence. Take for example the main character of Solo, Han Solo, he made his first appearance in 1977 with the first Star Wars movie and fulfilled an archetype as much as anything but was well defined.

He had his journey through the original trilogy and it ended. Now with the rebirth of the saga as well as making it a franchise get ready for all the details to be dished out for you.

Obviously, for the movie we have a younger portrayal of Han Solo, the role is taken over by Alden Ehrenreich. He reasonably looks like someone who could age into Harrison Ford and has his head of hair and strikes the iconic shooting pose but for a lot of it, he’s hard to buy. Possibly for years and years, our image of Solo has been purely Harrison Ford and to see another be the character is just too hard to wrap our brains around!  He becomes more buyable as the movie progresses, either this was intentional, Ehrenreich got better at the portrayal as they got further into filming or takes a bit of time to adjust to it all.

There are other familiar faces too. First is the large furry companion of Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo), he’s the loyal muscle that always has your back. Then we meet the suave, smooth-talking Lando Calrissian played by Donald Glover, who is easily one of the best parts to the movie, his dialogue is much like the original character as well as being fun in his own right and he matches Billie Dee Williams performance to a tee and makes it look natural.

Obviously, we get new characters for this journey too. Almost as soon as the movie starts we meet Qi’ra (Emila Clarke), a shrewd beautiful woman from Han’s past that is a survivor like him. There’s the robber Tobias Beckett (Woody Harelson) who becomes a mentor figure and there’s the sassy droid L3-37 (Phoebe Waller-Bridge), who tenaciously wants equality for all droid kind.

One of the problems with movies like this is that when we see the younger versions of familiar characters we know not only where they go but that they will make it out without a scratch, that really takes the tension out of the scenes. It’s the equivalent of watching someone play a video game and they have permanent invincibility, there’s no investment because there are no stakes. However with the new characters that we don’t see in any of the other movies, we don’t know where their story goes or if it ends here, so there’s still a bit of tension.

To get back to my opening statement, we were introduced to Han Solo and his large furry friend Chewbacca rather briskly in the original trilogy and there were hints of his past but it didn’t really matter because we had the present story to deal with. We could wonder and create our own ideas about the details of their relationship, of how exactly their first encounter went but it is something that is relevant to the individual, now this movie is here to solidify it.

The world of Star Wars is a recognisable one on a purely visual basis. It has incredible technology that is beyond us and that technology is not very well polished, it is a little rusted and has a layer of dust over it. There is plant life that grows in larger and weirder shapes, the clothing is practical but more stylish at the same time and the technology itself has an oldfashioned style in its plating and construction. For this movie, we do indeed see the Millenium Falcon but it is not the one we know, it is newer and shinier than we have seen in previous movies.

This is a very muted movie in terms of its color pallet. In the opening segment we are in a dingy city of nearly all grays, then we go underground and everything has a blue filter to it, then we get out and gray again, they were in a battlefield of gray and mud and then a snowy mountain range of whites and grays. There are a few more colorful environments in the movie but even then the color never really seems to pop. It seems like a strange choice being that it’s such a stylized world and known for its use of color.

The movie makes no bones about this being a part of a franchise (one of the most recognizable and profitable of all-time). Through the viewing of the movie, you will hear and recognize things that you can connect back to the original saga. But the movie still works by itself in terms of never stopping to make those references and having other moments be there for legitimate plot reasons.

If you go seeking an energetic Science Fiction Action movie then you will get that and all that comes with it. If you go wanting to see and hear things that are connected to Star Wars because you love it, then this movie is for you. Whichever category you fall into (or even both) you will be satisfied.

Jonathan Evans

 

Review Rampage by Jonathan Evans

(3 / 5)

There are the genuinely good movies, there are also the bad movies. Then there are the movies that are not high art but put all their effort and conviction into the stupid concept and make something bold and weird, then there are the “so bad their good” movies that are such colossal failures they become entertaining again. This movie is more of the bold and weird one, though the needle does waver between the two. It’s big, it’s loud and has no shame in itself and really does try and be as good as it can be without trying to make itself seem deep or complex. That’s pretty nice to have once in a while.

So this is our setup. We start in space where a satellite is crashing, all the crew is dead except one, the survivor must gather special research formulas, also on-board is a test subject that was a rat but has become something else. The survivor gets out but the pod still breaks up and the formulas fall to Earth.

We now in a Gorilla wildlife reserve that houses an albino named George and his keeper is Davis. Said formulas from space crash and come into contact with George, a wolf, and a crocodile. It then warps them and makes them grow to extreme size.

As has been proven many times before and is still evidence here Dwane Johnson is a man with charisma. This movie would be so much less without him. He brings Davis Okoye to life with conviction and confidence in what he does. When he comes face to face with these large animals and knows to keep clam you believe it. He utilizes his physicality and voice to become a smooth, cool hero. But he’s not a boring, serious hero either, he smiles and has banter.

The people behind this evil organization are Claire Wyden (Malin Åkerman) and Brett Wyden (Jake Lacy). They are the worst part of the movie. Their scenes are comprised of heavily expression dialogue and cliche villain lines. Claire is the serious one with a plan and ios decisive, while she is contrasted by her numbskull of a brother that needs everything explained to him, so she can really explain things to us. They are evil for evil’s sake and bring nothing interesting to the movie. However, on a personal observation, I got an Eric Trump vibe from Jake Lacy’s performance, no idea whether it was intentional or not. They need these giant animals to come to them because the formula is in their blood, so they activate a signal on top of their skyscraper that attracts them. Thus begins their rampage, through the trees, the quarries and eventually a city.

Eventually, Jefferey Dean Morgan swander’s in as Harvey Russell, an agent from an agency that he chooses not to name, possibly because it’s new and super secret or another reason. He has a Texas twang to his voice and is dressed with a belt buckle with a cow on it and a pistol with a pearl handle, already you know that this is a cowboy in a government job. This is a case of you being able to tell when an actor is having immense fun in the role they’re in. He probably is the one that made me laugh the most.

There are some truly bizarre sights in the movie and you know they cost a lot of money and many hours to bring to life through the process of C.G.I. Texturing has become second nature in talking about it now, we can see all the wrinkles in the face and every hair, this time I noticed little specs of dirt in the fur too. What is the important element to focus on now is how it’s used. In the early scenes, you will be much more convinced of the gorillas being there when the other animals start getting bigger and bigger, less so. But they are meant to seem artificial because this movie is entirely artificial. What they do get right is inserting character into the creatures, most of it goes to George but the others are distinct enough as well.

This does not reach the heights of Pacific Rim, Kong: Skull Island or Big Trouble in Little China which had truly bonkers concepts but brought them to life with genuine skill and conviction. As a big, dumb blockbuster it has more going for it than others.

Jonathan Evans

 

Review Deadpool 2 by Jonathan Evans

The first Deadpool movie was rude, crude and meta as all hell. It was juvenile but also revealed in how juvenile it was. It knew what it was and poked fun of itself as much as the Superhero genre, which made it hard to dislike. Now the sequel is here with more money and characters.

At the start of my review of the first movie, I made a point that Deadpool was not a hero due to his lack of moral center and just being a hired gun. It seems like this movies goal is to definitely make him a hero, one of the lewdest you’ll ever find, but a hero none-the-less.

The movie opens with Deadpool (Ryan Renolds) being a hired gun and killing all sorts of over-the-top villains, he makes it home to his beloved girlfriend Vanessa (Morena Baccarin) when she is shocking shot down before him! What follows is a parody of a Bond opening that is just as shocked that they made such a decision. Deadpool then falls into depression and is pulled into joining the X-Men as a trainee, when they need to deal with a young rouge mutant Russell Collins/Firefist (Julian Dennison) this go very bad and both of them end up in Jail.

Things only elevate and complicated with the arrival of Cable, a gun-toting, robotic armed mercenary from the future. He is played by Josh Brolin, who also plays the antagonist in Avengers: Infinity War, this is a bit odd and they do indeed use it for material. Brolin himself is playing the role like he wasn’t in a comedy at all, he is playing this character as if this movie was a serious time traveling science fiction movie. This adds to the comedy greatly, he is the straight man that contrasts with the cast that are virtually living cartoon characters. He doesn’t really look that out of place with a glowing eye and robotic arm but through the interactions you see he’s is out of place.

Other players from the last movie return. Firstly there is the reliable taxi driver Dopinder (Karan Soni) that now wants to be an active member of Deadpool’s business. Weasel (T. J. Miller), the very snarky barman that get’s a little more wrapped up in the drama of the plot this time around. My favorite character throughout these movies Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand), who may have even less screentime than the last movie but like the last one every time she appears she makes me laugh, so I’ll take it. Then there’s the big, friendly Colossus (Stefan Kapičić), who continues to try and make Deadpool the best person he can be, it’s an uphill battle.

Along for the ride are also new characters. Most prominent is Domino (Zazie Beetz), whose superpower is luck, this lends itself to some well-constructed and creative action set-pieces that are well thought out and executed, and she is a fun character in her own right. There is also Bedlam (Terry Crews), able is dish-out large amounts of power, Shatterstar (Lewis Tan) is an alien who is apparently better than humans in every way, Zeitgeist (Bill Skarsgård) has the ability to spit acidic saliva and then theres Peter (Rob Delaney) he’s just a regular guy that showed up and they decided to take him along for the ride. There is also Vanisher, but the least I say about them the better so just go and see the movie.

I didn’t mention it in the last movie and it’s still present here so I’ll make up for it. Ryan Renolds costume in the movie covers his face completely and uses that limitation to emote through his entire body. From subtle head nods to iconic body posing and moments of energetic movements he brings the character to life.

I know that this isn’t the most sophisticated of comedy but sometimes that doesn’t matter and the results speak for themselves. I laughed during the movie, multiple times and somewhere rather big laughs. As did the audience at the screening so it seems to be hitting the right nerve.

This is an R rated action comedy that is meant for teenage to young men. It knows this and revels in who the character was made for and is still sharply shot and the script is solid. This is much more emotionall grounded than the last movie and I would say after the journey Deadpool is a hero, not the best example of one but there we are.