Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Film: Tag









GENRE: Comedy
RATING: 14A for language and sexual content
RUNTIME: 1 hour and 40 minutes
STARRING: Ed Helms (The Hangover trilogy, The Office, Vacation)
Jon Hamm (Mad Men, Baby Driver), Jeremy Renner (Avengers)
DIRECTOR: Jeff Tomsic (newcomer)
WRITERS: Rob McKittrick (Waiting…) & Mark Steilen (newcomer)
PLOT: A group of friends, now adults, get together once a year for a month for an all-out game of tag.

FULL DISCLOSURE: Looked silly but fun. Liked the casting.

STORY STUFF: The concept of this film is really fun to watch unfold, even more so when you realize it’s based on a true story (and even funnier when you see actual footage of the real people playing). The vibe of this film reminded me of Games Night. My only issues with the story revolve around a love interest that is completely unnecessary and the ‘no tag back’ rule that seems to get forgotten at times. Other than that, very funny and full of inappropriate humour.

ACTING STUFF: It’s the sweet casting that makes this film work. Helms knows how to play for laughs, Hamm can play equal maturity and goofiness, Jake Johnson (New Girl) has great stoner non-sequiturs, Hannibal Buress (Neighbors) has clever commentary and Renner knows how to have fun while using his stellar action chops. Also, Isla Fisher hasn’t been this crazy since Wedding Crashers. All in all, you are rooting for everyone in this film.

ARTISTIC STUFF: Great use of slow motion action shots. Also very funny music choices with gangsta rap and Crash Test Dummies’ “Mmm, Mmm, Mmm, Mmm” which gets an encore by the cast during the credits.

VERDICT: Four stars out of five
SEE IT IF: You liked Game Night or can get behind the concept.
UPCOMING REVIEWS: Ant-Man & the Wasp

Film: Jurassic World - Fallen Kingdom









GENRE: Action Adventure
RATING: PG-13 for lots of violence
RUNTIME: 2 hours and 8 minutes
STARRING: Chris Pratt (Guardians of the Galaxy, Passengers)
Bryce Dallas Howard (The Help, The Village), Rafe Spall (Roadies)
DIRECTOR: J.A. Bayona (The Impossible, A Monster Calss)
WRITERS: Derek Connolly (Kong: Skull Island, Jurassic World),
Colin Trevorrow (Jurassic World, Star Wars IX)
PLOT: Gotta get the dinosaurs off the island, then out of a house. You know, the usual.

FULL DISCLOSURE: Not my favourite franchise, but usually have fun.

STORY STUFF: It’s kind of two films in one. The one on the island and then the more horror-style dinos in the house. There are numerous references and homages to the first Jurassic Park in this one. If you loved the T-Rex/lawyer scene and the suspense of the raptor in the kitchen, you will get to experience that fun again. I found it surprisingly graphic for PG-13; I guess it’s because being eaten whole doesn’t give off much blood. Anyway, I found it pretty entertaining throughout, although it could have been a tad shorter. The end credit sequence is not worth the wait.

ACTING STUFF: Lots of screaming and running around. Pratt is fantastic as usual. Howard also brings it. Liked her a bit better this time. Spall is the right kind of smarmy. Justice Smith (The Get Down) is fun as the scaredy-cat. Although I miss Jake Johnson. Good dino acting too.

ARTISTIC STUFF: The CG work is incredible and the action sequences are intense. I did not like the choral music during the last hour of the film; stick with the orchestra.  Also, how many times do we need to see Claire’s feet? We get it, she’s wearing more sensible shoes this time around. You learned your lesson.

VERDICT: Four stars out of five
SEE IT IF: You like Jurassic Park or Chris Pratt or dinosaurs.
UPCOMING REVIEWS: Tag; Ant-Man & the Wasp

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Film: Ocean's 8









GENRE: Comedy Crime
RATING: PG-13 for language and suggestive content
RUNTIME: 1 hour and 50 minutes
STARRING: Sandra Bullock (Miss Congeniality, The Proposal, Speed)
Cate Blanchett (Thor 3, Carol), Anne Hathaway (Les Mis, Bride Wars)
DIRECTOR: Gary Ross (Pleasantville, Hunger Games, Seabiscuit)
WRITERS: Gary Ross (Big, Dave), Olivia Milch (newcomer)
PLOT: Debbie Ocean gets an all-female crew to steal some jewels at the Met Gala   

FULL DISCLOSURE: Loved Ocean’s 11 & 13. 12 was meh.

STORY STUFF: Not bad but a tad predictable. It’s probably because of seeing the other Ocean films, but the formula is pretty set. There are some fun moments throughout but it gets dull in the last quarter of the film. Too much time post-heist. Liked the couple of members from the original trilogy making cameos to give the film some more credibility.

ACTING STUFF: While all the cons do a fine job, two of the actresses took it up a notch. You could tell that Hathaway was having a blast playing completely self-involved actress; it was fun to watch. I also enjoyed Rihanna, who played it cool. Actually, now that I think about it, I also enjoyed Awkwafina (Crazy Rich Asians) as Constance. The main guy was very blah. And while the late night host playing the insurance agent was fun and all, it seemed like a bizarre casting choice.

ARTISTIC STUFF: Ross manages to evoke a similar slickness as the other Ocean films, but Sodherbergh was better. Some nice music choices. Not much else to say.

VERDICT: Two and a half stars out of five
SEE IT IF: You forget the plot of the other Ocean films.
UPCOMING REVIEWS: Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Film: Incredibles 2









GENRE: Animated Adventure
RATING: PG for action violence
RUNTIME: 1 hour and 58 minutes
STARRING: Craig T Nelson (Coach, Parenthood, Blades of Glory)
Holly Hunter (The Big Sick), Bob Odenkirk (Better Call Saul)
DIRECTOR: Brad Bird (Iron Giant, Mission:Impossible-Ghost Protocol)
WRITER: Brad Bird (Incredibles, Ratatouille, Tomorrowland)
PLOT: Bob has to take care of the kids while Helen is out saving the world and trying to get superheroes reinstated.   

FULL DISCLOSURE: Loved the first film. Little worried about the sequel.

STORY STUFF: Brad Bird is very gifted storyteller. The plot is full of action, humour and family drama. I didn’t find the Elastigirl antics as enthralling as the home stuff. On the home front, watching Bob try to handle his kids was entertaining. Violet had some great teen angst but Dash’s math issues seemed a little tame. The best part of the film, however, is Jack-Jack. He is fantastic. The giggles, the powers, the adorableness, so awesome. There is a fight with a raccoon that will bring the biggest smile to your face.

ACTING STUFF: All the voice acting is well done. The Parr family is strong as usual. Odenkirk has always been quite the salesman. I didn’t recognize Catherine Keener’s (Being John Malkovich) voice as Evelyn, but I didn’t really like her character much anyway. Love Eli Fucile’s as Jack-Jack; did I mention the giggles?

ARTISTIC STUFF: Same outstanding animation you expect from Pixar. I also love how Bird goes for the retro-style wherever he can; it’s so sharp. I will say that two elements seemed to come from strange sources: Speed 2 and Justin Timberlake’s ‘Rock Your Body’ video.

VERDICT: Four stars out of five
SEE IT IF: You enjoy Pixar or the work of Brad Bird or cute babies.
UPCOMING REVIEWS: Ocean’s 8, Tag, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Film: Solo









GENRE: Action Adventure
RATING: PG-13 for action violence
RUNTIME: 2 hours and 15 minutes
STARRING: Alden Ehrenreich (Hail Caesar!, Beautiful Creatures)
Woody Harrelson (Hunger Games), Emilia Clarke (Game of Thrones)
DIRECTOR: Ron Howard (Apollo 13, Rush, Da Vinci Code)
WRITERS: Jonathan Kasdan (In the Land of Women) &
Lawrence Kasdan (Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi)
PLOT: Han Solo meets Chewbacca and Lando as he tries to save the girl and join a group of smugglers.   

FULL DISCLOSURE: Worried a bit due to the director changes.

STORY STUFF: That was a lot of fun. I thoroughly enjoyed this Star Wars adventure. It was full of rip-roaring actions pieces, witty one-liners, interesting new characters, and lots of references to other things in the Star Wars cannon. Very entertaining.

ACTING STUFF: I think Ehrenreich was well cast as Han. He had the perfect mix of swagger and heart and humour. I have been getting annoyed with Donald Glover (Community, Atlanta) lately as his arrogance in his recent artistic pursuits is a put off. However, this plays nicely with his cocky Lando. I also love his obsession with capes. Clarke and Harrelson do good work as does Joonas Suotamo as Chewbacca. In fact, Chewbacca steals a lot of scenes. Of course, with Ron Howard at the helm, expect to see his brother Clint.

ARTISTIC STUFF: This has all the trappings of a typical Star Wars film. Great use of special effects, set pieces, score and costume. Loved the Millennium Falcon escape/battle. There is also a cameo that I was questioning but after reading up on Clone Wars and Rebels, looks like a great fit.

VERDICT: Five stars out of five
SEE IT IF: You are a Han Solo fan even without Harrison Ford.
UPCOMING REVIEWS: Ocean’s 8, The Incredibles 2

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Film: Deadpool 2









GENRE: Action Adventure
RATING: R for excessive violence and language
RUNTIME: 1 hour and 59 minutes
STARRING: Ryan Reynolds (Hitman’s Bodyguard, The Proposal)
Josh Brolin (Avengers: Infinity War), Zazie Beetz (Atlanta)
DIRECTOR: David Leitch (Atomic Blonda, parts of John Wick)
WRITERS: Rhett Reese & Stephen McFeely (Deadpool, Zombieland)
Ryan Reynolds (newcomer)
PLOT: Deadpool tries to get over his grief by creating a team to rescue a young boy with dangerous mutant abilities.  

FULL DISCLOSURE: I wasn’t expecting too much from this sequel.

STORY STUFF: I think this storyline was a bit better than the first Deadpool. In the first one, the middle was dragged down with how Wade became Deadpool, which didn’t really work for me. This one deals with trying to make a team and a ‘family’. Kept me more engaged, though still drags a bit. The humour was on par with the first one as well as some of the action sequences. Still enjoy the meta stuff even though I know it bothers some people. Love the Canada shout outs, especially during the post credit sequence.

ACTING STUFF: You can tell that Reynolds is having the time of his life. This must be infectious as the others are having fun around him too. It was great to see Julian Dennison (Hunt for the Wilderpeople) again. And my goodness, some of the cameos. Hopefully moviegoers won’t be spoiled beforehand.

ARTISTIC STUFF: Some well-crafted fight scenes. Great use of slow-mo. Amazing collection of music with hilarious odd choices for action sequences (and check out the lyrics for the operatic music near the end). Fun stuff.

VERDICT: Four stars out of five
SEE IT IF: You are not easily offended.
UPCOMING REVIEWS: Solo

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Film: Avengers - Infinity War









GENRE: Epic Action Adventure
RATING: PG-13 for violence and some language
RUNTIME: 2 hours and 29 minutes
STARRING: Robert Downey Jr. (Iron Man, Sherlock Holmes)
Josh Brolin (Deadpool 2, W.), Chris Hemsworth (Thor, Vacation)
DIRECTORS: Anthony & Joe Russo (CA: Winter Soldier & Civil War)
WRITERS: Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely (Civil War, Narnia)
PLOT: The Avengers unite to keep Thanos from getting the infinity stones and killing half of earth’s population.

FULL DISCLOSURE: I’ve been looking forward to this for a long time.

STORY STUFF: Wow. That was a lot of story. This is truly an epic tale. There are six or seven main plotlines going on at the same time as there are a lot of people to cover. Along with all the adventure, there is a slew of deeply emotional moments for those who have become attached to their favourite Avenger. I did find a couple moments that dragged a bit and felt the ending reminded me of LOTR: Return of the King with its overly drawn out multiple ending. Overall, it was pretty intense, in a fun way. There is a lot of death but I’m pretty sure I know how some things are going to turn out in the next Avengers next year.

ACTING STUFF: Every actor and actress gives it their all. They know what is at stake and don’t want to let their MCU fans down. Let me just say that the chemistry between these large-than-life superheroes is magnificent. My favourite pairing would have to be Chris Pratt’s StarLord being ultra-jealous of Chris Hemsworth’s Thor.  

ARTISTIC STUFF: It’s epic. It looks awesome. Check out all the CG artists while waiting for the singe post-credit sequence. I’ll just say it’s impressive.

VERDICT: Four and a half stars out of five
SEE IT IF: You like Marvel films and want your mind blown.
UPCOMING REVIEWS: Deadpool 2, Solo

Sunday, April 08, 2018

Film: Isle of Dogs









GENRE: Animated Adventure
RATING: PG-13 for animated violence
RUNTIME: 2 hour and 41 minutes
STARRING: Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad, Argo, Trumbo)
Koyu Rankin (newcomer), Edward Norton (Moonrise Kingdom)
DIRECTOR: Wes Anderson (Fantastic Mr. Fox, Rushmore, etc.)
WRITER: Anderson (Grand Budapest Hotel, Moonrise Kingdom, etc.)
PLOT: A boy looks for his dog that was exiled along will all the other dogs in Japan.

FULL DISCLOSURE: I am in love with Wes Anderson films.

STORY STUFF: I always find that Wes Anderson’s scripts are engaging and full of whismy. This one is no exception. Colourful characters, detailed lists, clever dialogue and fun flashbacks. It’s all there. Everything you expect from a Wes Anderson film. So I love it. But it might not be for everyone. Oh, and it's also a story about deportation, which seems relevant for today.

ACTING STUFF: Along with Cranston and Norton, Bill Murray, Jeff Goldblum and Bob Balaban provide the voices for the main dogs. They are fantastic. Surprisingly, I enjoyed Goldblum’s gossipy Duke the best.  

ARTISTIC STUFF: The animation is incredible. It would say it even outshines Mr. Fox. The hair on the dogs (and their constant humorous coughs) is wonderfully detailed. I loved the way they animated the dog brawls and the many different artistic touches throughout. I thought the songs could have been a bit better though. I usually love his soundtracks.

VERDICT: Four and a half stars out of five
SEE IT IF: You like Wes Anderson, even if you hate dogs.
UPCOMING REVIEWS: Avengers: Infinity War

Tuesday, April 03, 2018

Film: Ready Player One









GENRE: Sci-Fi Adventure
RATING: PG-13 for language and violence
RUNTIME: 2 hours and 20 minutes
STARRING: Tye Sheridan (X-Men: Apocalypse, Mud, Tree of Life)
Olivia Cooke (Bates Motel), Ben Mendelsohn (Rogue One, Bloodline)
DIRECTOR: Steven Spielberg (Jaws, Minority Report, E.T., The BFG)
WRITERS: Zak Penn (X-Men: Last Stand) & Ernest Cline (Fan Boys)
PLOT: It’s a race between avatars as they try to find a hidden Easter Egg in a virtual reality world.

FULL DISCLOSURE: Was looking forward to nostalgia.

STORY STUFF: I haven’t read the book but apparently it is vastly different: the main idea is the same but that may be it. Spielberg engages his audience with some slick action and set pieces. The last quarter of the movie seems to get away from him though. The ending battle looks clunky and the part with the lone gunman was ridiculous. It kind of limped to the finish line, which is too bad because it started really well.  

ACTING STUFF: The chemistry between Sheridan and Cooke is sweet, even if they are avatars for most of the time. Spielberg always does well directing young actors. Mark Rylance (Bridge of Spies, Dunkirk) and Simon Pegg (Shaun of the Dead) are almost unrecognizable with their American accents as the creators of the OASIS. Unfortunately, Mendelsohn isn’t menacing enough for my liking.

ARTISTIC STUFF: The special effects are outstanding with amazing CG and camera work. Of course, the big draw is the 80’s nostalgia (also dips heavily into 70’s and some 90’s). Great callouts to Robert Zemekis and John Hughes. Absolutely loved the major nostalgia pieces from The Shining and The Iron Giant. Fun stuff.

VERDICT: Three and a half stars out of five
SEE IT IF: You like video games, Easter eggs and Iron Giant
UPCOMING REVIEWS: Isle of Dogs

Wednesday, March 07, 2018

Film: Game Night









GENRE: Comedy
RATING: R for language and violence
RUNTIME: 1 hour and 40 minutes
STARRING: Jason Bateman (Horrible Bosses, Arrested Development)
Rachel McAdams (Mean Girls), Kyle Chandler (Friday Night Lights)
DIRECTOR: John Francis Daley & Jonathan Goldstein (Vacation)
WRITER: Mark Perez (Accepted, Herbie Fully Loaded)
PLOT: A game night goes off the rails when a real kidnapping happens.

FULL DISCLOSURE: This looked like some silly fun.

STORY STUFF: This was fun movie. I would compare the humour to that of The Hangover or Horrible Bosses; maybe a little lighter though. I found the storyline entertaining as I enjoy playing games and watching people make fools of themselves being ultra-competitive. There are some very funny moments including gagging while removing a bullet and cleaning blood off a dog. Also some very fun dialogue as well.

ACTING STUFF: Great chemistry all around. Bateman and McAdams are a great match; they are charming, snide, adorable and very funny. In fact, all the main game players are given times to shine. A standout for me was Billy Magnussen (Black Mirror, Bridge of Spies) who plays a slow-minded player. Also enjoyed Lamorne Morris’ (New Girl) Denzel impression.

ARTISTIC STUFF: Not much to say artistically. I enjoyed the games they played. Also liked the detail oriented closing credits.

VERDICT: Four stars out of five
SEE IT IF: You like games, Jason Bateman, Rachel McAdams & laughs
UPCOMING REVIEWS: Isle of Dogs, (not sure about Wrinkle in Time)

Sunday, March 04, 2018

Oscar Wrap Up









I did a little better in my predictions this year. I got screwed over by Blade Runner 2049 and some shorts, however, Roger Deakins did deserve an Oscar finally. The show was pretty extravagant, especially in the sets. What’s with all the crystals around the stage? Looked like a giant tiara. And those gaudy staircases? Wow. Since it was a big milestone show, I enjoyed seeing the numerous montages. They were very well edited (well, the best picture ones were a little long). Jimmy Kimmel did a fine job and looked pretty comfortable up there. I enjoyed his shortest speech give-away and movie theatre surprise. Unfortunately, he couldn’t pick on Matt Damon this year as he was absent. Funniest presenter goes to Kumail Nanjiani; he is so witty. Highest pants goes to Christopher Walken. The songs were mostly dull this year. If solely based on their Oscar performance, “This is Me” from The Greatest Showman should have won hands down. I still think The Shape of Water is too weird to be best picture, I would have preferred Dunkirk, but oh well. It was a fun night. Here’s who won:

LIVE ACTION SHORT FILM
THE SILENT CHILD
ANIMATED SHORT FILM
DEAR BASKETBALL (predicted)
DOCUMENTARY SHORT
HEAVEN IS A TRAFFIC JAM ON THE 405
SOUND EDITING
DUNKRIK (predicted)
SOUND MIXING
DUNKIRK (predicted)
ORIGINAL SCORE
THE SHAPE OF WATER (predicted)
ORIGINAL SONG
REMEMBER ME (predicted)
VISUAL EFFECTS
BLADE RUNNER 2049
MAKE-UP
DARKEST HOUR (predicted)
COSTUME DESIGN
PHANTOM THREAD (predicted)
PRODUCTION DESIGN
THE SHAPE OF WATER (predicted)  
FILM EDITING
DUNKIRK (predicted)
CINEMATOGRAPHY
BLADE RUNNER 2049
DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
ICARUS (predicted)
ANIMATED FEATURE
COCO (predicted)
FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
A FANTASTIC WOMAN (predicted)
ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
CALL ME BY YOUR NAME (predicted)
ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
GET OUT (predicted)
BEST DIRECTOR
GUILLERMO DEL TORO [THE SHAPE OF WATER] (predicted)
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
ALLISON JANNEY [I, TONYA] (predicted)
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
SAM ROCKWELL [THREE BILLBOARDS…] (predicted)
BEST ACTRESS
FRANCES MCDORMAND [THREE BILLBOARDS…] (predicted)
BEST ACTOR
GARY OLDMAN [DARKEST HOUR] (predicted)
BEST PICTURE
THE SHAPE OF WATER

How did you do?

Friday, March 02, 2018

Oscar Predictions









It’s that time of year again for my fearless Oscar predictions. Acting predictions seem pretty safe. I’m torn with the Best Picture and surprisingly enough the Animated Short. Just as a reminder, I’m not predicting who I want to win but who I think the Academy will vote for. From smaller to bigger, here we go:

LIVE ACTION SHORT FILM
DEKLAB ELEMENTARY
(About a school shooting. Voting happened after Parkland.)

ANIMATED SHORT FILM
DEAR BASKETBALL
(Kobe Bryant love letter. Prefer Lou and Garden Party though.)

DOCUMENTARY SHORT
HEROIN(E)   
(It’s about the fighting the opiod crisis. Pretty relevant.)

SOUND EDITING
DUNKIRK
(War films usually do well in this category.)

SOUND MIXING
DUNKIRK
(When there is little dialogue, the sound tells the story.)

ORIGINAL SCORE
THE SHAPE OF WATER
(With mute lovers, the music captures the emotions.)

ORIGINAL SONG
REMEMBER ME [COCO]
(Although I’m in love with Greatest Showman songs right now.)

VISUAL EFFECTS
WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES
(Third times the charm for Andy Serkis and his ape work)

MAKE-UP & HAIRSTYLING
DARKEST HOUR
(See Gary Oldman. See him as Churchill. Winner.)

COSTUME DESIGN
PHANTOM THREAD
(It’s about dress making. Seems like a no-brainer)

PRODUCTION DESIGN
THE SHAPE OF WATER
(Del Toro loves a good colour palette. Really sets the mood.)

FILM EDITING
DUNKIRK
(Three different timelines are brilliantly woven together.)

CINEMATOGRAPHY
DUNKIRK
(On land, on sea, in the air, all beautifully shot.)

DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
ICARUS
(Russian doping scandal exposed. Interesting stuff.)

ANIMATED FEATURE
COCO
(It’s Pixar. It’s about Latinos. Seems like a winner.)

FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
A FANTASTIC WOMAN [CHILE]
(About a Transgender woman. Apparently powerful.)

ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
CALL ME BY YOUR NAME
(Wish it was Molly’s Game but this one will get it.)

ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
GET OUT
(Jordan Peele deserves something for his fine work.)

BEST DIRECTOR
GUILLERMO DEL TORO [THE SHAPE OF WATER]
(This is will be his consolation prize for not winning Best Picture.)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
ALLISON JANNEY [I, TONYA]
(Excelled at portraying the worst mother ever.)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
SAM ROCKWELL [THREE BILLBOARDS…]
(A really great character arch and more complex than it seems.)

BEST ACTRESS
FRANCES McDORMAND [THREE BILLBOARDS…]
(It’s a powerful role and she plays it so well.)

BEST ACTOR
GARY OLDMAN [DARKEST HOUR]
(It’s about time he got one. And what an awesome performance.)

BEST PICTURE
THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING MISSOURI
(Shape of Water seems a little too weird for Oscar)

Only got 15 last year, 17 the year before. Gotta do better. My record is 21 three years ago. Let’s see how I do on Oscar night this Sunday. Fingers crossed.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Film: Phantom Thread









GENRE: Drama, Romance
RATING: R for language
RUNTIME: 2 hours and 10 minutes
STARRING: Daniel Day-Lewis (There Will Be Blood, Lincoln)
Vicky Krieps (Hanna), Lesley Manville (Topsy-Turvy)
DIRECTOR: Paul Thomas Anderson (There Will Be Blood, The Master)
WRITER: Paul Thomas Anderson (Boogie Nights, Punch-Drunk Love)
PLOT: A renowned dressmaker falls for his muse who disrupts his life.

FULL DISCLOSURE: I just wanted to watch all the Oscar nominees

STORY STUFF: There is some fun stuff, specifically Day-Lewis’ Reynolds Woodcock’s fastidious lifestyle and how that affects those around him. Other than that? Snooze-ville. The pace is really slow and meticulous and not very captivating.

ACTING STUFF: I guess Daniel Day-Lewis wanted to play a big jerk as his final role. He is very childish, rude and passionate. He does a fantastic job and is really the only reason to watch the film. The two ladies, his muse and sister, also hold their own against him.  

ARTISTIC STUFF: Like most Anderson films, it is beautifully shot. But there’s not much else to say.

VERDICT: One and a half stars out of five
SEE IT IF: You need to watch all the Oscar nominees
UPCOMING REVIEWS: Oscar Predictions

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Film: The Greatest Showman









GENRE: Musical, Drama
RATING: PG for thematic elements
RUNTIME: 2 hours and 14 minutes
STARRING: Hugh Jackman (Les Miserables, Logan, X-Men)
Zac Efron (High School Musical), Zendaya (Spiderman: Homecoming)
DIRECTOR: Michael Gracey (newcomer)
WRITERS: Jenny Bicks (Rio 2) & Bill Condon (Chicago, Dreamgirls)
PLOT: PT Barnum tries to rise above his station by creating a spectacle that becomes the modern circus.

FULL DISCLOSURE: My expectations were low, surprisingly.

STORY STUFF: I blame Rotten Tomatoes for lowering my expectations. On paper, the movie sounded great but it only got a 55%. But it seems the critics were more annoyed with the fact that the story didn’t stick to the real-life story of PT Barnum. But I think they’re forgetting that this is a musical and not a strict biography. Suspend the disbelief, have some fun. I thought the story was well told and well-paced for the most part.

ACTING STUFF: Jackman is fantastic. Of course, whenever he’s sad, I’m thinking about Jean Valjean but still. He is electric, as is Efron. The two kids are simply adorable. The only person who seems completely out of place is Michelle Williams (Dawson’s Creek, Manchester by the Sea) as Barnum’s wife. While the character is supportive, I just don’t think Williams is really selling it. I also doubt that it’s her singing. A lot of other actresses could have rocked that role.

ARTISTIC STUFF: The spectacle, costumes and art direction are outstanding. But, of course, the real draw is the songs and choreography. The barroom choreo during the Jackman and Efron duet “The Other Side” is a treat. I want to watch that again, especially for the quick bartender. I don’t know why I didn’t think the songs would be catchy. Benj Pasek and Justin Paul not only did La La Land (which I know is not for everyone) but they also did the songs for my current musical obsession: Dear Evan Hansen. Almost every song in this musical is beautifully written with a perfect mix of foot stomping and sweet harmony. I still have the “Rewrite the Stars” song in my head. Think I’ll have to buy the soundtrack.

VERDICT: Four stars out of five
SEE IT IF: You love musicals (or the circus)
UPCOMING REVIEWS: Phantom Thread