So how’s everyone else enjoying their Spring? Lots of sunshine and pretty flowers? Well for me it’s been nonstop rain, a tornado warning, and a broken toilet that cost a bunch of money to fix, so things have been just a tiny bit hectic over here. That’s certainly a reason why my movie reviews have been a little late recently, but thanks to streaming services and studios becoming less confident about their theatrical releases, it’s now easier than ever to catch up on stuff in a timely fashion! To wit, I have three movie reviews for your enjoyment and to hopefully distract from the fact that I haven’t seen the new Top Gun movie yet!
Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers
Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers is owned by Walt Disney Pictures
Directed by Akiva Schaffer
The former stars of the nineties animated show Chip ‘n’ Dale Rescue Rangers have gone through a lot since its cancellation all those years ago with Chip (John Mulaney) selling out and going corporate while Dale (Andy Samberg) trying to make it work all these years later; banking on the nostalgia adults have for his glory days and selling signed photos at conventions to keep himself afloat. To make matters worse, they ended the show on pretty bad terms so they’ve hardly spoken to each other since then, but fate brings them back together as one of the cast members of that show Monterey Jack (Eric Bana) is in deep with the cartoon mafia and gets kidnapped right after calling both of them for help. With their friend’s life in the balance, Chip & Dale must put aside their differences and work together to scourge the LA Underworld (or at least the nostalgic cartoon version of it) to save their friend and perhaps even come back together after being apart for so long.
I’m either gonna be too harsh on this movie because I’m a giant sourpuss or I’m gonna be too nice to this for fear of looking like a giant sourpuss. It occupies a very strange place for me as I do genuinely enjoy a lot about this movie, but I still can’t quite get behind it for reasons that… well probably make me look like a giant sourpuss. Before we get into that, let me just say that I got a decent amount of laughs in this and I was genuinely tickled by a lot of the imagination on display. There are some deep-cut references that certainly appealed to me, and concepts like the putty captain and the puppet chef were well-realized and fun to watch on screen. Heck, I’d go so far as to say that the inclusion of Ugly Sonic has me convinced that he should get his own spin-off series because they were just that funny! It’s almost like the nineties kids finally got the Roger Rabbit sequel we always wanted to see as the movie’s use of nostalgia, however cynical it may be, is at least cleverly realized with some very funny premises throughout. I love the idea of turning the objects of nostalgia that are the lifeblood of the convention scene and making them the literal guests trying to make a few bucks at rickety card tables with tri-fold boards of merch. It’s clear that the creative behind this are of my particular generation, both with the nostalgia for all this nineties crap and the subsequent decades of nostalgia baiting entertainment, so it gets more than a few points for some level of authenticity even if the movie leans far too heavily on it which I guess brings us to what’s wrong with the movie. The thing is that you can only rely on sight gags and nostalgia for so long before the movie has to start standing on its story and this is where the movie just doesn’t work for me. I didn’t find Chip or Dale particularly endearing as characters, nor did I find the plot all that interesting with the mystery being pretty threadbare. Now I could avoid being a giant sourpuss here and chalk this up to being a kid’s movie where a swift pace and lighthearted tone can carry an otherwise simplistic storyline, but I feel the age and density of so many of the references means that it’s aiming a bit higher than it wants to admit. Do kids even know who the Rescue Rangers are? Heck, are kids gonna get any of the Disney Afternoon jokes in here; let alone the references to more adult-oriented stuff like South Park or the general concept of bootleg movies? It’s a movie that clearly wants to have its cake and eat it; setting its targets squarely on a Millennial audience while hiding behind the Gen Z for its immature and simplistic storytelling. Perhaps it splits the difference evenly enough that both groups will get at least something out of this and I can’t deny the moments I enjoyed throughout, so it gets a little bit of a pass from me but this trick isn’t gonna work indefinitely. Millennials will get sick of 90s-stalgia just as everyone got sick of 80s-stalgia about a decade ago, and what is that gonna leave us with? 2000s-stalgia? I mean it’d be nice if I got my Megas XLR reboot, but still…
House of Gucci and all the images you see in this review are owned by United Artists Releasing
Directed by Ridley Scott
It’s that time of year where the big performances come out, the A-List directors strut their stuff, and the biopics are as far as the eye can see! Oscar season is in full swing and Ridley Scott is doubling down this year with two prestige films; both of which star Adam Driver, funnily enough. Now I don’t know the first thing about Gucci or the story behind the family, and the closest I’ve ever been to designer clothes is seeing them in shop windows. Still, stories about the grimy underbelly of powerful families and giant corporations can be very entertaining (provided they aren’t poisoning the planet or something like that), and while Scott can be hit or miss with a lot of his projects, the good ones can REALLY stand out in an otherwise crowded and lukewarm award season. Does this movie capture the whirlwind drama around one of the most recognizable brands in the world and the eccentric family that built it, or is the only interesting thing about this family the name they carry? Let’s find out!!
Our story begins with Patrizia Reggiani (Lady Gaga) as a young up-and-coming socialite who may not come from a truly wealthy family, but she’s ambitious and wants to prove herself as a woman to take seriously! Well, she’s in luck because one of the parties she goes to is where she meets Maurizio Gucci (Adam Driver), the son of Rodolfo Gucci (Jeremy Irons) who is the current head of the Gucci business along with his brother Aldo (Al Pacino). Whether or not she truly had feelings for him is ultimately secondary as her Prince Charming was in her sights and she was not about to let this opportunity go! Over time the two get close and Maurizio agrees to marry her, but it’s clear her wants very little to do with the family business as he’s seen how it has turned his family bitter and cold; including his cousin Paolo (Jared Leto) who may be jovial on the outside but is nursing some serious resentments that threaten to bubble up in unpredictable and inopportune ways. Patrizia is having none of that wishy-washy nonsense from her husband however, and pushes him to get more and more involved. In fairness, was more than likely to happen with or without Patrizia’s involvement, but with her at his side, he’s poised to not just be A Gucci, but to become THE Gucci! Does this tale of power, wealth, family drama, and high-end clothing have a happy ending for the ambitious Patrizia? What makes Maurizio different from the rest of the family, and will this aggressive push from her wife make him the very thing he didn’t want to become? I know we got a MacBeth movie pretty recently, but any chance we can get another one so Gaga can be in it?
Justice League 2017 & Justice League 2021 as well as all the images you see are owned by Warner Bros Pictures
Both films directed by Zack Snyder
I can’t say I was ever looking forward to this day as I was one of the people who actually LIKED the original cut of Justice League and then spent the last four years seeing people opine (and worse) for a movie that they already got; not to mention the awful news that broke about how the reshoots went for Ray Fisher. Still, Warner Bros is looking for ANY sort of cash cow to make their HBO Max service a success, so they threw a bunch of money at Zack Snyder and company to make an extended version of the movie they already made and feed into the LOST SNYDER CUT narrative that has been stuck with us for so long. Now that the movie is finally out, was it worth all the hype and can it possibly justify the ridiculous over the top actions its most ardent supporters took? Well obviously not, but instead of just doing a straight up review as the films are very similar in a lot of ways, I think it’d be much more interesting to take a look at what this new version gets right as well as where it falls short of the original cut. Let’s get started, and beware of Spoilers ahead!!
Something Good: The colors make more sense
The drastic change in pallets between the early trailers and the later ones was a definite sign that things were changing significantly and a lot of scenes in the movie ended up suffering for it. Batman in particular always looked like an overstuffed sausage in bat-pants stuffed with pudding (which isn’t COMPLETELY gone but is much less prominent now), and there was a garishness to certain scenes where they pushed the colors up just a little bit too high. The corrections here definitely fit more with what was being filmed and the pallet fits well with the new tone of the movie.
Something Bad: The colors are more boring
And yet I just couldn’t get behind it. Sure the colors didn’t always WORK, but for the most part they were bright and colorful which added a much needed cheeriness to a franchise that until then was stuck in its own morose grander. Thankfully later movies like Shazam, Aquaman, and arguably even Wonder Woman 1984 built a brighter look from the ground up and the aesthetic fits better with those movies, but going back to this kind of look after those films is just deflating; even if it’s more competently done. And I’m also going to throw this in here, I just don’t get why they insisted on using an IMAX aspect ratio for a moving going to a streaming service. It’s distracting the whole way through and I never felt like it added anything.
The Little Things and all the images you see in this review are owned by Warner Bros Pictures
Directed by John Lee Hancock
Say what you will about HBO Max’s plan on releasing movies on their service the same day as theaters, it’s done a heck of a lot more to get me excited about watching movies again than anything else has in the past year. Sure the movies never STOPPED coming out whether it was on other streaming services or on VOD, but HBO giving us a list of first run movies that we can expect to see this year gives me something to build a schedule around which very few things have been able to do since this whole pandemic started. Heck, it’s half the reason I started my Halo Retrospective so that I’d have something to work towards every single week! So with all that being said, is this movie the start of a renewed sense of vigor for my aspirations of becoming a film critic, or has Warner Bros gotten me all hyped up for even more drivel that wasn’t going to hack it at the theater anyway? Let’s find out!!
Joe Deacon (Denzel Washington) is your typical washed up patrol man. He works in a dead end nowhere town and is happy to write parking tickets and scarf down doughnuts until his retirement, but he is forced to go to Los Angeles to pick up some evidence in a relevant case, and as soon as he gets there it’s clear that he has a bad history with this particular precinct. There’s at least one detective however who doesn’t seem to care that he’s back in town, and he’s the new hot shot Jim Baxter (Rami Malek) who’s working on a solving a series of murders that definitely look to be connected but he’s unable to finger a suspect on them. With Joe being back in his old town and Jim having to deal with the disappearance of Rhonda Rathburn (Maya Kazan) who could very well be the serial killer’s next victim, they begrudging start working together as Joe seems to be trying to redeem himself for something bad in his past and Jim is starting to wonder if he’s good enough to find this killer in the first place. Through some sly investigation they manage to find some dude with the unfortunate name of Albert Sparma (Jared Leto) who seems to be their guy, but they are just having a heck of a time trying to find conclusive evidence that’ll put this guy away for good. Will Joe and Jim learn to appreciate each other’s strengths and faults to become best buddies as they spend all their time following this weirdo around? What exactly is Sparma up to, and is he playing games with everyone without them realizing it? Is there any way we could just cut to the chase on this or will we spend half this movie sitting in a car as bored out of our minds as these two?
Blade Runner 2049 and all the images you see in this review are owned by Warner Bros Pictures and Sony Pictures
Directed by Denis Villeneuve
Yup! Blade Runner sure was a movie, wasn’t it? I mean I was always more into eighties Carpenter than eighties Scott, but it’s clearly a movie that’s impact can still be felt to this day from science fiction films like The Matrix and Dark City to anime like Ghost in the Shell and Akira. Heck, even the live action Ghost in the Shell looks as much like the original Blade Runner as it does the source material! Many of us have been living in this film’s shadow for as long as we’ve been alive, and so the prospect of a sequel seems rather quixotic considering how hard it would be to not only live up to that movie’s actual merits but to also live up to the sense of scope and impact that it ended up leaving in its wake. Does the director of that one movie where Jake Gyllenhaal meets a giant spider have what it takes to stand with one of the titans of the genre, or will this project collapse faster than Rutger Hauer’s plan to not die at the age of four? Let’s find out!!
One more thing! Some people may consider a pertinent detail that we learn five minutes into the movie to be a spoiler. I don’t REALLY see it as a spoiler considering how early it is in the movie, but I figure I’ll just put up a SPOILER WARNING here just in case you want to go in completely blind. TURN BACK NOW IF YOU MUST!!
We good? Okay, so the year is 2049 and the movie begins with Agent K (Ryan Gosling) who we learn within the first five minutes of the movie is a replicant which is an artificially created human but ALSO a cop for the LAPD. A Blade Runner in fact which is a cop that specifically hunts replicants! Hence the title… though I’m still not sure WHY they’re called that considering he uses a gun and tends to leisurely stroll from place to place. Anyway, replicants haven’t been a problem for a while now as the CURRENT big bad organization Wallace Corp has fixed all the kinks that were in the Nexus 6 models from the first film (they had a tendency to rebel and kill humans) but K still has to hunt down these old timers whenever one crosses their path and we see him at the start of one of these missions as the movie begins. Once the deed is done (in GRUESOME detail), he ALSO discovers something else that’s on the replicant’s property that shouldn’t be there but holds secrets that could turn this world on its head. Oh, and in case you were wondering OF COURSE Deckard (Harrison Ford) is somehow involved, so K has to not only find answers as to what exactly they found but where it came from and who else knows about it. While on this super-secret assignment that I’m not gonna spoil, he also has to contend with Wallace Corp head honcho Niander (Jared Leto) as well as his replicant assistant Luv (Sylvia Hoeks) who seem to know exactly what’s going on and are keeping tabs on him just in case he either discovers too much or finds something that they’re looking for as well. Will K unlock the mysteries that are so mysterious that they can’t be discussed here? Will they in some way deal with his mysterious past which is a mystery even to him? JUST HOW MANY SECRETS CAN ONE MOVIE HAVE!?
Suicide Squad and all the images you see in this review are owned by Warner Bros Pictures
Directed by David Ayer
After Batman v Superman, I can’t imagine how everyone behind this movie wasn’t shaking in their boots now that the ENTIRE franchise is resting on their should to right the course and bring audiences back around before the Justice League and Wonder Woman movies have a chance to kick this cinematic universe into high gear. In fact, the heavily publicized reshoots of this movie were probably due almost entirely those expectations being thrust upon this after Batman v Superman fell flat on its face. Still, even when that movie was running its course, there was always the hope that this one would be the fun alternative to the somber and serious Snyder film and the marketing at least was leaning heavily on that idea to sell it to the masses. Does this succeed in distinguishing itself from the rest of the DCCU which includes a maybe a third of a good movie and a really awful one, or were DC and WB playing us all for fools by convincing us this one would be different? Let’s find out!!
The movie follows the first undertaking of The Suicide Squad which is a group of SUPER criminals that the US government plans to use in order to fight meta-human or otherwise extremely dangerous threats. The project is being pushed forward by the tough as nails Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) and is comprised of Deadshot (Will Smith) who is a perfect shot, Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) who… I guess is good with a baseball bat, El Diablo (Jay Hernandez) who’s actually doing this under duress as he’s given up his fire spewing ways, Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnouye-Agabaje) who’s… half man half crocodile I think, Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney) who is pretty good at throwing boomerangs, and of course Slipknot (Adam Beach) who doesn’t do shit. Along with the squad is Col Rick Flagg (Joel Kinnaman) who’s basically serving as their babysitter and also has the power to blow their heads off if they step out of line (NOTHING at all like Battle Royale) and Katana (Karen Fukuhara) who I think is supposed to be a good guy at least compared to the other members (as far as I can tell, she’s NOT actually in jail and volunteered for the mission) and she’s got a magic sword. Not what I’d call the best team to send out when a city gets very nearly leveled by an evil witch called The Enchantress that is inhabiting the body of Dr June Moone (Cara Delvingne) who JUST SO HAPPENS to be Flagg’s girlfriend, but at least the government won’t have to pay for their funeral expenses when they surely get obliterated by dark and unimaginable forces. Can the Suicide Squad manage to infiltrate the city that’s crawling with monsters summoned by the witch and save a highly valuable target inside? What about the Joker? Isn’t he supposed to be in this too? Does the fate of the world REALLY need to rest on the shoulders of Captain Boomerang!?
Not long ago, we got trailers for the upcoming DC Comics films, namely Superman v Batman and Suicide Squad. Needless to say that both of them have been HUGE presences in entertainment media since they’ve come out with everyone giving their two cents about the trailers and what their movies will ultimately be about, and not one to avoid jumping on the bandwagon, I’ve decided to use my little platform to give you my thoughts on them as well. Do they inspire confidence in DC’s unique direction to take their superhero films, or are they the further indication that they have no idea what the hell they’re doing over there other than desperately try to scramble together a cinematic universe after Marvel did it so effortlessly? Let’s find out!!
Batman v Superman
The trailer begins with what appears to be some sort of senate hear4ing where Superman is being brought before them to explain his actions in the previous film. We also get to see that Bruce Wayne was in Metropolis at the time of Zod’s attack and saw the destruction that these super humans can dish out. From there we get to see as things escalate between the two with Batman coming out of retirement (I think) to get ready to fight Superman, while Clark Kent is still trying to figure out what his purpose on this planet is (I think). If you’re wondering why I’m so uncertain about those things, it’s because the trailer does a pretty poor job conveying where in Batman’s history we are and giving us ANY reason to even give even the TINIEST of shits about Superman or understand him in any way.