Jim and I take a belated look at the latest installment in the John Wick saga, Chapter 3: Parabellum. JW3:B, has some of the finest action sequences we’ve ever seen, but it’s also rapidly approaching diminishing returns in terms of quantity over quality. We’re all for combat innovations including insane knife work, horse and dog augmented combat, and up-armored adversaries, but there’s only so many times you can watch Keanu kill a guy with a gun before you start checking your watch. With John Wick 4 looking to keep upping it’s ante, is this momentum sustainable? We’ll look forward to finding out!
Jim and I have seen the climax to a decade’s worth of world building in the MCU, Avengers: Endgame, and would like to certify it 100% awesome. Sure, you might quibble with a few cameos you don’t recognize, and the more you’re capable of rolling with the “Rule of Cool” the more you’ll appreciate the spectacle they’re putting on screen. But it’s hard to imagine any fan of superhero movies not respecting what an accomplishment this is; to get so many people across the globe to care about and invest in these characters through 20+ movies that they’ll sit in the dark for 3+ hours laughing and crying with them. How does Marvel top this? Can’t wait to find out.
Jim and I saw the Neil Marshall helmed, David Harbour starring 2019 reboot of Hellboy. And it’s the definition of a mixed bag. Sporting an impressively low 11% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, Jim thought the movie was bad, but I borderline loved it. I have no explanation for my critical disparity, and I can see the issues with plot and humor that Jim and others are expressing but… I’ve seen a helluva lot of worse movies this year get better reviews. Am I losing my touch? Or do you just have to be a die hard Hellboy fan to admire what this movie has to offer. It’s a damn shame, because while I think everyone can agree that Harbour makes an excellent Hellboy, the movie isn’t likely to get the sequel his casting deserves.
A.Ron and Jim talk about the latest attempt at a Stephen King adaptation, Pet Sematary. The movie is genuinely scary and horrifying when it wants to be, unfortunately in our opinion they squander a lot of time and goodwill in the first act flailing about conceptually which keeps us from connecting with the characters and setting the way we should. But still, the family dynamics, endangered children, and a great Jon Lithgow performance does just enough to sell us when things that were better off left dead aren’t.
Jim and A.Ron saw Alita: Battle Angel tonight, and declare it a mess, albeit a beautiful, groundbreaking one in terms of effects work. This feels like the first half of the third part of a movie trilogy; everything is mysterious, nothing makes sense, the world is being built hastily and right in front of our eyes, and the movie ends right at the beginning of what promised to be a kick ass third act. But if you want to see what state of the art CG looks like in 2019, this is a shining $170 million example.
We took a look at the latest Netflix original, High Flying Bird. Directed by Steven Soderbergh and shot on an iPhone 8, it tells the tale of NBA management squeezing the players for a reduced share of profits during a labor dispute, and one high profile sports agent that is caught in the middle. It works on the level of a heist film; instead of smooth talking con-man Danny Ocean, we have smooth talking agent Ray Burke. Instead of boosting millions off of a ruthless billionaire casino owner, we’re negotiating for millions off ruthless billionaire team owners. But it also works as a commentary on the power dynamics of labor in general, and on a meta level, the film industry itself. It’s a well made, well-acted, gorgeous film, and it’s final act is as thought provoking as it is fun to watch unfold.
Jim and A.Ron have seen The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part and it’s almost if not just as good as the first one. Father/son relational dynamics take a back seat to big bro/little sis dynamics for the sequel, but Everything Remains Awesome. This movie is bright, colorful, funny, inventive, and packs a lot of heart. Go see it unless your inner child is dead and your heart is gripped by icy black despair. In which case I’d recommend The Lego Batman Movie, instead.
Jim and A.Ron checked out the latest Netflix original film, “Velvet Buzzsaw”. Directed by Dan Gilroy (Nightcrawler) and starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Rene Russo. It functions well enough as a horror story, a farcical look at art criticism, as well as an introspective look at the creative process and the related critical process. We have quibbles here and there, but the film looks great, has some inventive/gruesome deaths, and the main cast has a lot of fun being terrible people.
Jim and I missed Aquaman when it first washed up on our shores late last year, but we were lured in by general positive reviews and the massive audience and bank it’s pulling in. What did we think? Unfortunately, while it is clearly the second best DCU film after Wonderwoman, in our opinion it’s not nearly that good, and is still trying to play catch up to their more marvelous competition. Like a lot of these DC properties, it feels equally rushed and bloated, as if they stuffed three Aquaman movies into one. Any one act of this movie would have made an excellent installment of a kickass Aquaman trilogy, given a chance to breathe and establish their characters our connection to them.
Woof. Jim and I really, really wanted to like Glass, the sequel to the terrific Unbreakable, and the surprisingly good / sneaky amazing Split. And it should work. Bruce Willis, Samuel Jackson, and Anya Joy Taylor are good, and James McAvoy does more incredible work as the Horde. But the script is just about the laziest damn thing we’ve ever seen. Tons of plotholes, characters succeeding not because of their brilliance but others’ stupidity, and Shyamalan indulging the worst of his third act instincts torpedo any chance this movie had to kickstart a new cinematic universe, which is it’s plain ambition. It’s a genuine disappointment, ya’ll.