Summer Movie Swing Part 2

Independence Day: Resurgence

Available on BluRay and DVD Oct. 18

The movie has garnered a lot of negative attention from critics but it is a pretty good action movie and the ending magnifies the movie in tone and scope

This summer both Hemsworth brother get the spotlight (Chris steals the show while Liam is the new generation of leading men). Liam is the handsome face of the new American generations (with the required darkness of course). He joins a team of returning cast (including Jeff Goldblum and Bill Pullman) and newbies (Sela Ward, Jesse T. Usher) that are awesome combination of past and present (but be prepared to say goodbye to some beloved characters)independence-day-resurgence when the next threat hits. Earth has been planning for the aliens return and has used the alien’s technology to benefit the entire planet. As the movie opens they are working one a new weapon while an elite team of pilots are getting ready for just about anything. Their patience is rewarded when the mother ship comes home. But what we haven’t anticipated? Earth wasn’t to the first to be attacked by these monsters.

Many critics have killed Resurgence which surprises me. It’s pure Hollywood Action Movie Recipe and manages to produce a capable action flick. I must agree that it doesn’t live up to the original but it has all the same pieces: great action, characters you like, and a final outlandish attack (there’s even a pretty moving speech). I enjoyed the action and was interested in where the alien’s history will take us.

Resurgence is notable because it is the perfect sequel/reboot. There is the passing of the crown to the younger generation while honoring those that came before. Integrating characters from the first movie and having several of them survive is a key in keeping the franchise consistent but their rolls make it easier for the new characters to become center stage. Viewers get to say goodbye and hello without feeling cheated (unlike other recent reboots).

I was unhappy with the forced franchise set up. As the plot develops there is no doubt that the franchise could continue so it was rather tacky and cliché as the ending is set up for an ensured sequel. I guess, at this point, Hollywood hasn’t had time to learn from Divergent. I’ll see the sequel (if the producers decided this one made enough money), but don’t expect it to be as good as the first or even as good as this one.

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Suicide Squad

Available on BluRay and DVD Dec. 13

Suicide Squad gets a few things right and a few wrong. It’s nowhere near the best comic based movie this year and it is not the worst.

Suicide Squad follows a group of villains who have been put together to fight the new growing supernatural threat in the world. In the wake of Superman the government is scared and somehow letting lunatics out to fight those like him is a great idea. When Enchantress (one of the squad’s own) goes berserk, the team is called out for their trail one. The team proves they can battle the forces of evil while being (mostly) evil themselves.suicidesquad

Suicide Squad is the best when it’s using its sound track to personify the characters and getting viewers into the mood for a good ass kicking. The music gives death to the many one dimensional characters. That’s not to say they are all one demission. Diablo is the most compelling of the stories and we do get flashbacks into what Harley Quinn once was and a small look into what actually motivates her.

The writing of the characters isn’t the only problem; casting cripples character like Deadshot and Flag. No matter what Will Smith thinks, this was an ensemble movie and his desire to push his leading man status down our throats harms the movie. Joel Kinnaman as Rick Flag is the poor man’s Tom Hardy, literally. After Hardy left the project (I knew there would be problems with this movie when he walked out), the production set out to find someone who could be Hardy and since that’s impossible, ___ is slammed between a rock and a hard place. Outside of the Human Flame, the best characters are regulated to a just a few lines; Boomerang and Croc get to make a few wisecracks and stand around taking up space instead of being integrated into a cohesive team. I would have rather have seen more of them and less of characters like the Joker.

Ah, Jared Leto, the most controversial of all of this. He was a horrible Joker playing him as a strung out meth head who paraded around as a mob boss. It was painful to watch and you just waited for his over-the-top scenes to be over. Everyone involved wanted Joker to be different and he is, in fact, very different but no one bothered to ask if it was any good.

Suicide Squad is an entertaining romp that needs a lot of fine tuning before its next foray.

 

Ghostbusters

Now available on BluRay and DVD

Ghostbuster also reboots an old story. The Ghostbusters crew dedicated the movie to original writer and star Harold Ramiz but the movie doesn’t live up to the Ramis’ reputation.

A team of estranged researcher reunite when a local historic location has shown evidence of haunting. While the team easily sees through the gimmicks, they suddenly find themselves face to face with real ghosts. The two must expand their team (including their research assistant, an outspoken subway work, and a model of receptionist) to get to the bottom of the disturbance. And they quickly find that it’s not isolated. New York City has a ghost problem!

The movie had some great parts but the biggest issue is that it isn’t Ghostbusters. The tone is not the ghostbusters2016image004same, the movie is super CGed and the only real connection is some icon images and gear. The movie would have been better standing on its own as a Ghostbusters inspired movie; the four ladies get together to bring back the old idea and gear and set up their own movie with tone and vision. The overly CGed world of this Ghostbuster isn’t scary at all and is just another C level reboot.

But there are some fabulous parts to the movie and those are the two characters that get the most laugh. Leslie Jones starts out as stereotypical hysterical black women but quickly she starts saying and doing what we as normal people think. The prime example is the “room of nightmares”; she refuses to go in a room of mannequins because she knows how it will end. But the move is propelled by Chris Hemsworth who gives his best performance ever as the dumb secretary that throws gender roles on its head. He is hilarious but turns on the gravitas in a heartbeat (it also helps he was allowed to use his own accent).

I’m not a Trump supporter (screw you Apatow), but I still believe the quality wasn’t very good. Hollywood stuck with a gimmick but lacked substance. Women are funny, especially when you let them be.

Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie

Available on BluRay and DVD Nov. 29

It is interesting that Hollywood is finally getting behind female centric comedies when other countries have been doing it for years. It’s hard to look at BBC comedy without noting the plethora of female comedians. AbFab’s returns continue to prove that women are funny and can pull the big screen attendants.

Edina Monsoon is desperate not it sink into oblivion and continues to struggle with her PR firm. She is always on the edge of the next big get or the next big trend but never fully lands. Eddie has finally lands something and it’s not good. When it is revealed Kate Moss is looking for a new PR director, Eddie accidently kills Moss in her scramble to get the position. Eddie and Patsy must escape before she can be crucified for the fashion world’s biggest death ever. But Eddie and Patsy don’t know how to do low key and their situation continues to sink and sink and get funnier and funnier.

English movies based on TV show like to recycle old materials from their shows (see Are You Being Served and Bean for examples) but AbFab is more subtle about how it does this. Instead of pulling whole gags from the series, running gags appear at every corner. Mother is still being verbally trashed; her nurse still thinks Eddie’s fat and Eddie has finally added a second verse to her “walking down the road” song! This is wonderful treats for long time fans without trying their patience. And as always, the movie is star studded with a variety of cameos from Game of Thrones Gwendoline Christie to the “really hot right absolutely-fabulous-the-movieartnow” Rebel Wilson. And, of course, there’s Lulu!

The movie largely secedes because Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley become Eddie and Patsy and they give it their all. They don’t inject anything PC into this character taking women’s issues as basis and then exaggerates them to the point of being funny. A movie about woman insecure about her weight is usually a Lifetime movie with a sad sound track. Instead Saunders takes Edina and makes her larger than life, and it is at that point we can connect to Eddie; while some of us may have done dumb stuff, none of us are as dumb as Eddie.

Many of today’s comedians such as Amy Schumer and Lena Dunham need to take note. It’s ok to be honest, foul mouthed and talk about our vagina without sinking to likes of their male counter parts. (I mean, I don’t want another Sausage Party from men let alone something like that from women. Ick. That genre of comedy should just die out.) Saunders and Lumley do it right, they do it real, and they do it with a lot more class.

 

Men in Black Suit Up…Again

Often franchises sputter and die, especially when a long period of times elapses. Case in point: Indian Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. But several franchises continue to bring in and excite viewers each time.  Men in Black III had a prickly production process, but it opened in first place opening weekend knocking The Avengers out of the top spot. While the total gross, isn’t quite yet enough to pay for the film, it was a much better movie than many anticipated.

Some of the best elements from the franchise are featured in this foray. Agent J is back wise cracking his way through fights with aliens. Danny Elfman’s bewitching score adds the perfect atmosphere. K is more sullen than ever. The variety in alien design is fresh and fun. And, as usual, several celebrities are outed as aliens (of course Lady Gaga is an alien!).

In this particular outing, Agent J has become obsessed with K’s sullenness which has grown more ever present with the death of Z. His desire to learn how K has become the man he is today is cut short by the breakout of a violent alien that K had captured. Boris the Animal decides to rectify the situation by traveling back in time to kill K before the agent can capture Boris and take off his arm. With J being the only person who remembers K, he travels back time to take down Boris the animal. There he meets the young version of K, and J gets insight into K’s past.

The time travel aspect lends a humor and freshness to the jokes and designs. Everything from the technology, to the clothing, to the aliens is designed in the ‘60s area without being garish. A look back at the ancient equipment, especially the nueralizer, proved for good humor as well as unique challenges for J. This different world helps keep the franchise from recycling too much old material.

Joining Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones is Josh Brolin as a young K. Brolin captures Jones in a very believable way. In fact his multifaceted version of K is a refreshing aspect to the sully character. Through the story and the acting, the audience is taking through the same journey through K’s past that J does. But K is not the only person whose history is explored. J’s story gets emotional depth that the character has been lacking throughout the franchise.

Like the sequel, this third installment lacked the charm of the first movie.  It’s not that the novelty has worn out per se. But the second movie tried too hard to add more action and this movie tried to out-emotion the previous installments. This subtle change in tone affects the sequels in a profound way leaving audience wanting a little bit more.

The casting is strong though I was quite surprised when I found out that I hadn’t been watching Tim Curry for 106 minutes. Jemaine Clement has down the surly Curry voice and the make-up made recognizing any face impossible. Bill Harder’s guest role was fabulous as guest start Any Warhol, and I would have loved to know a little more about his character. I was also thrown for a curve with Michal Stuhlbarg’s Griffin. I was convinced the prophetic character was played by Alias’ David Weisman. Stuhlbarg’s Griffin has the same quirky sweetness that Weisman’s Marshall had. He was dorky but lovable.

Overall, MIBIII adds depth to the franchise and gives the viewer insight into the characters. This humorous adventure into the world of the Men in Black should delight fans of all ages.

Josh Brolin as a young Agent K with Will Smith’s Agent J