We’re back with a few more movie reviews, and I’ve got to say that I’m starting to enjoy this format! I still get to watch the movies I want to, but now I can watch them on my own schedule and I keep things nice and succinct. The only problem is that I’m not getting these out in a timely manner, but relevance is overrated, am I right!? Anyway, let’s take a look at three movies that I’m sure you saw a while ago but are still interested to hear what some guy on the internet has to say about them! Let’s get started!!
Bullet Train is owned by Sony Pictures Releasing
Directed by David Leitch
A hapless assassin given the codename Ladybug (Brad Pitt) is on a very simple mission to retrieve a briefcase on a train heading to Kyoto. Naturally, these kinds of things never are that easy and he laments his bad luck while dodging other assassins on the train, and is haphazardly embroiled in a plot that is bigger than he could possibly imagine and seems to be heading in one very bloody direction.
I’m not a guy who will turn his nose up at over-the-top action spectacles or something that is intentionally cheesy and a movie like this should have been my jam by default, but even the best ingredients will go to waste if given to an untalented chef, and I just found this whole thing to be insufferable. It’s convoluted without being clever, smarmy without the charm to make up for it, and artificial to the point that nothing seems to actually matter. The only part of the movie that resonated with me was the relationship between Lemon and Tangerine as Brian Tyree Henry and Aaron Taylor-Johnson had great chemistry and added some genuine heart to an otherwise insincere story, and while I feel like this is one of the most Monkeys’ Paw wishes imaginable, I’d kind of like to see what could be done with a spinoff focusing on them specifically. Andrew Koji also stands out from everything else with a very angry and desperate performance that’s still about as one-note as everything else in the movie, but at least it’s a different note being played and does a great job playing it. Everything else though is just laden with insufferable dialogue and compounding coincidences that just drain any investment you can have in the characters or the plot itself; especially our protagonist who is just in the wrong place at the wrong time. For that kind of story to work, it has to ultimately circle back around to them actually being the right person to be there, but that would require a level of emotional investment that this movie is just unwilling to extend and so Brad Pitt feels like as distant to the story as those of us sitting in the theater watching him awkwardly stumble his way through a place he doesn’t belong; like an uninvited party guest asking everyone where the bathroom is. With the threadbare story, the quip-tastic dialogue, and the general lack of impact or weight from any of the narrative beats, it falls somewhere between a Rick and Morty episode and one of those award show skits with a bunch of celebrities are comically inserted into another movie. If we take it on these terms, as little more than entertainment fluff with a bunch of famous people in it, does it manage to work? Sort of, I guess. It’s competent in its action and the actors are fine for what they’re asked to do, but it’s also not that inspiring or clever in its shallowness and I had my fill of everything it had to offer well before it got to its big cameos at the end. At best it’s a misguided attempt from Hollywood to recapture the lightning-in-a-bottle magic of early Tarantino as well as the director’s own early success with John Wick, and at worst it’s the cinematic equivalent of Steve Buscemi in a backwards baseball cap asking his fellow kids how they are doing. It’s not without its charms, but why settle for the smoothed-over corporate version of stylized action shlock when the genuine article is easier to find than ever?
Free Guy and all the images you see in this review are owned by 20th Century Studios
Directed by Shawn Levy
When the Pandemic started over a year ago, this was one of the movies that got pushed back to try and court a big audience once things had settled down, and sadly it seems to have waited JUST long enough to catch the brunt of the Delta variant that has people gun-shy about going back to theaters once again. Still, even when the trailers for this were coming out in the pre-pandemic work, it was not something I was looking forward to as it looked like a cash grab from Ryan Reynolds; using his post-Deadpool clout to score a HUGE payday with something that KINDA resembles his usual shtick. Then again, Reynolds isn’t a guy who takes on roles lightly, especially SINCE Deadpool, and his other big cash grab movie Detective Pikachu turned out to be one of the best video game movies ever made! Can he make lightening strike twice with this send up of the AAA Game Industry, or is the video game curse one that even Ryan Reynolds can’t overcome more than once?
Guy (Ryan Reynolds) is an NPC going about his day to day life in an online sandbox game known as Free City; basically if Grand Theft Auto 5’s online mode was smashed together with a not-so-self-aware version of the Saints Row series. Guy is no one of particular note in the game, he isn’t giving people quests or running in-app purchase storefront; instead he’s just a banker who’s daily routine involves getting stuck up by criminals multiple times a day as players complete the Bank Heist mission for XP. All of this is way over Guy’s head who along with his fellow NPCs doesn’t even know they are in a video game; they are just living their lives day to day and this is what it looks like! That is until Guy runs into a player named Molotov Girl (Jodie Comer) who seems familiar in some way and makes him start to think differently than before; so much so that he decides to take the glasses that these robbers are always wearing and discovers the user interface that’s hidden from all the NPCs. With this new world opening up to him, Guy goes after Molotov and even tries to make Free City a better place to live by stopping crime and being a Good Guy which gets him XP of his own and catches the attention of streamers out there; confused by this character (who they mistake as an actual player) trying to do GOOD things in the game. This attention however does not go unnoticed by the developers and the studio head Antwan (Taika Waititi) who is none too happy with someone trying to break their profitable game loop; especially right before the release of their sequel that will make Guy and his world obsolete. Will Guy’s quest for self-determination and heroism ultimately spell doom for himself and everything he holds dear? Who is this mysterious woman that he has fallen for, and what is her connection to the developers of the game itself? How can Ryan Reynolds be so dorky AND so cool at the same time!?
The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part and all the images you see in this review are owned by Warner Bros. Pictures
Directed by Mike Mitchell
Everyone loved The LEGO movie, right!? And then most people loved LEGO Batman, right!? And then LEGO Ninjago was… okay, right? Well now it’s time for the return of the one that started it all and it’ll be JUST as good as the original… right? Sigh… okay, so the trailers for this film haven’t filled me with a whole lot of confidence that it’ll be on the same level as the original film. It looks FINE if nothing else, but this is THE LEGO MOVIE! We don’t just want fine, we want PHENOMENAL! Then again, maybe that’s putting too much pressure on this film which doesn’t have the benefit of being such an out of the blue surprise, and while the trailers aren’t inspiring me with a lot of hope, maybe they’ll find a new angle to take it in that’ll make up for not being able to put the genie back in the bottle! Can this sequel be Justas good if not better than the first film, or has the LEGO phenomenon finally run its course? Let’s find out!!
Immediately following the events of the first movie, the Duplo aliens of the Systar System have waged an all-out war with the people of LEGO city for five whole years and have left it a Mad Max style barren wasteland with no more bright and shiny blocks. ONLY DARKNESS AND NO PARENTS!! Well except for Emmet (Chris Pratt) whose upbeat attitude cannot be damped even in the face of utter annihilation! That turns out to be a problem though as the nice house he built has attracted the Duplos once again and now they’ve taken all his friends from the first movie which includes Lucy AKA Wyldstyle, Batman, Benny, Princess Unikitty, and MetalBeard (Elizabeth Banks, Will Arnett, Charlie Day, Alison Brie, and Nick Offerman) back to their home planet for their own nefarious purposes that we soon learn to be a shotgun wedding between Queen Watevra Wa-Nabi of the Systar System (Tiffany Haddish) and a very reluctant Batman. Clearly something has to be done to save them, but the only one of the LEGO people willing to take the chance is Emmet who haphazardly travels through… space I guess, to find them. Along the way he is saved from an asteroid field by the dashing rouge Rex Dangervest (also Chris Pratt) and his army of super smart velociraptors who agree to help Emmet on his journey to defeat the girly Systar invaders because being a TOUGH GUY means punching things that are pink and frilly! Can Emmet save his friends from Systar invaders who want to brainwash all of his friends and put Batman through a forced marriage!? Can Lucy escape from the Queen Watevra’s cunning grasp, and does she know something about this place that she isn’t telling the others? Is it just me, or did things get REALLY complicated for a movie about plastic toys?
Kingsman: The Golden Circle and all the images you see in this review are owned by 20th Century Fox
Directed by Matthew Vaughn
Kingsman kind of came out of nowhere and surprised everyone with just how big of a hit it became, but then again that’s kind of the most notable thing about Matthew Vaugh’s career so far. Kick-Ass, X-Men: First Class, and Kingsman were all movies that no one really expected to become huge hits, but he managed to turn all three into huge money makers and even garnered quite a bit of critical praise in the process! Now he’s attempting the one thing that so few directors have been able to pull off which is to make a successful sequel to one of his own films; something that even the best directors aren’t always able to pull off (*cough* The Lost World *cough*)! Will this be yet another unexpected hit from a director who’s known for making those, or is this a challenge that will prove insurmountable even for someone as talented as Matthew Vaughn!? Let’s find out!!
The movie picks up some time after the ending of the first film where The Kingsman Organization is thriving under new leadership and Eggsy (Taron Egerton) is living the super awesome secret agent life while also dating Princess Tildae (Hanna Alström) who was the princess he saved in his last adventure. Now obviously things can’t stay this way for long (lest this be a rather uneventful movie), as Eggsy’s past comes back to haunt him with the sudden reappearance of Kingsman dropout Charles (Edward Holcroft) who somehow survived the events of the last film and proceeds to set off a chain reaction of events that completely decimates the Kingsman Organization; even managing to kill agent Lancelot in the process (Sophie Cookson). With nothing left and the world facing an imminent threat from an organization known only as The Golden Circle, led up by Poppy Adams (Julianne Moore), the remaining Kingsman members (pretty much just Eggsy and Merlin played by Mark Strong) must turn to their American Counterparts known as The Statesmen in order to fight against whatever nefarious schemes Poppy and Charles have planned. Can Eggsy save the world yet again despite having lost so much already? Can the Statesmen be trusted to work with the remaining Kingsman members, or do they have a secret agenda of their own? Seriously, how the hell do they write themselves out of a bullet to the head in order to bring back Collin Firth!?
Logan Lucky and all the images you see in this review are owned by Fingerprint Releasing and Bleecker Street
Directed by Steven Soderbergh
Oh hey! Wasn’t this guy supposed to retire like five years ago? Last I heard, he was done making movies and Behind the Candelabra was supposed to be his last film! I guess it’s never easy for someone in this business to TRULY retire (didn’t Jet Li try to do that like fifteen years ago?) and it’s usually a good thing when they don’t. I mean sure, not EVERYONE manages to make their best films in the latter half of their career, but Soderbergh has been a solid talent for some time now and I think we’re better off with him at least TRYING to stay game than just giving it up all together. Will his latest effort confirm just how much he was missed for the maybe one year at most he stopped directing stuff, or was his initial instinct to quit at the peak of his career the right call to make? Let’s find out!!
The movie begins with Jimmy Logan (Channing Tatum) getting fired from his construction job at the Charlotte Motor Speedway due to a pre-existing injury that the company found out about. Now if you ask his brother Clyde (Adam Drive), he’ll tell you that this is just yet another example of The Logan Family Curse which he believes to be responsible for an IED blowing off his hand and forearm, and while the guy is clearly the superstitious type, it’s not like he doesn’t have a lot of evidence backing him up. Jimmy losing his job is just another burden for him to carry on top of his somewhat messy divorce with his wife Bobbie Joe (Katie Holmes), his straining relationship with his daughter Sadie (Farrah Mackenzie), and just the general suckiness of living in North Carolina where the Drinking water is almost always at risk from shoddy chemical plants who just keep spilling their shit into the supply. Maybe this is all a sign for him to go the Walter White route and make money in a less than ethical way just to get some of the weight off of his shoulders and live just a bit more conformably. He may not be cooking meth, but he DOES plan to rob the very speedway that he worked for because he knows that the money is transported through a series of tubes that go from the individual (and overpriced) merchants to the big vault down below. Even with his little inside tip, it STILL seems like a tough job to pull off which means he’ll need a little extra help from demolitions expert and current inmate Joe Bang (Daniel Craig) as well as his rather dumb yet completely loyal brothers Fish and Sam (Jack Quaid and Brian Gleeson); not to mention his brother as well as his sister Mellie (riley Keough) who’s an expert driver and the perfect wheel woman for this job. Can this ragtag group of misfits manage to pull off the heist to end all heists right under everyone’s noses? How exactly do they hope to not only get in the vault and steal all that money in the first place, but make sure they don’t get caught after the fact? Is this where the James Bond movies will end up going? Hey, it’s at least more coherent than the LAST movie!
The Lego Batman Movie and all the images you see in this review are owned by Warner Bros Pictures
Directed by Chris McKay
Let’s see… you take something awesome like The LEGO Movie, and you add more Will Arnett. How could this POSSIBLY fail!? I mean granted, adding Will Arnett to ANYTHING is an automatic improvement (unless it’s Bojack Horseman), but considering what we’ve gotten from the DC canon since Nolan’s second movie, how could we NOT be excited when one of those movies isn’t fraught with astounding mismanagement and crushing solemnity!? Does this offshoot of The LEGO movie prove to be a success while laying the groundwork for other LEGO based offshoots, or has Warner Bros utter mismanagement of the DC licenses somehow managed to spread to this colorful and vibrant take on the characters? Let’s find out!!
The movie is about Batman being Batman and everyone getting really sick about it, and I can certainly relate to that. More specifically, Batman (Will Arnett) has just locked away a whole bunch of villains for what has to be the millionth time, but something’s a little bit different. While The Joker (Zach Galifianakis) managed to escape like he usually does, Batman managed to hurt his feelings by claiming he’s NOT his arch-enemy, so now he’s got a NEW axe to grind with the caped crusader. On top of that, Barbara Gordon (Rosario Dawson) has just become the new commissioner and is somewhat skeptical about letting some sociopath with silly ears and a cape beating up poor people and other weirdos in the streets of Gotham which makes SENSE but isn’t all that comforting to Batman who’s already having enough trouble finding things to do in what little spare time he has NOW; let alone how much he’d have if the police department started doing their jobs right under Barbara’s new rule. To cap things off, he JUST SO HAPPENS to adopt a young boy named Dick Grayson (Michael Cera) which you’d THINK would require just a LITTLE bit of paperwork, but I guess the Orphanage could use the extra bed; especially considering how many kids they have to take in considering how many supervillains are blowing shit up around the city. ANYWAY! Batman, who’s been avoiding his feelings all this time by punching baddies in the face now has to deal with that one thing we all fear… CHANGE! Will he be able to keep his cool now that the status quo has been upended? Just what does The Joker have planned now that he’s even MORE pissed at Batman than usual? Is it too soon to reboot the DC films and just make them all based on toys?
Hail, Caesar! and all the images you see in this review are owned by Universal Pictures
Directed by Joel & Ethan Coen
Now that January is finally out of the way, we can get to the GOOD movies, right? Well… February isn’t exactly the best month for movies EITHER what with Valentine’s day being an invitation to release terrible rom coms, but then we ARE dealing with the Coen Brothers who have a pretty damn good track record when it comes to movies. Is this going to be another classic film in their catalogue, or is way below their usual standard of excellence and just be a decent film? Let’s find out!! The movie follows around Eddie Mannix (Josh Brolin) who is the head of Capitol Pictures and an all-around problem solver for everyone who works there. He makes sure the bills get paid and that the movies stay under budget, but he also pulls actors out of embarrassing situations, pays police to stay quiet, and that Capitol Pictures keeps a respectable image despite the chaos that is brought before him each and every day. The day that the film takes place on turns out to be an eventful one as Baird Whitlock (George Clooney) who is the star of the studio’s biggest film, Hail Caesar, has been kidnapped. Not only that, but another big star at the studio DeeAnna Moran (Scarlett Johansson) is having a baby out of wedlock which Eddie needs to find a way to cover up, and another one of the movies on the lot needs a lead actor but the only guy available is Hobie Doyle (Alden Ehrenreich) who has only starred in cowboy pictures and they need him to somehow act in a classy movie about New York socialites. Will Eddie be able to deal with these problems and more as the day goes on? Will the world finally get an idea of just how mad the movie business is, or can Eddie keep everything on the down low despite several reports prying into the studio’s affairs? Do we get to see Josh Brolin slap the shit out of George Clooney!?