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Average User Score: 7.1Jan 25, 2018Using fantasy stories to provide commentary on contemporary society is hardly a new concept, especially in regards to racism. Just look noUsing fantasy stories to provide commentary on contemporary society is hardly a new concept, especially in regards to racism. Just look no further than Dr. Seuss’ short story The Sneetches or the whole Mud-bloods vs. Pure-blood theme of the Harry Potter series.
However, if there is a comparison to be made with David Ayer’s latest creation that gives an End of Watch urban cop thriller spin to a Middle Earth-esque mythos; it would be Disney’s Zootopia.
Both movies use odd else-where settings (Zootopia with anthropomorphic animals, Bright with orcs and elves) in order to examine racism and the wealth disparities that exist within our own.
I certainly give Bright plenty of credit for it’s intriguing “Middle Earth in the modern day” concept and the large amount of money that was obviously put behind it (it’s the most expensive Netflix movie yet). From a visual effects and cinematograph perspective; it’s certainly the best-looking of the Netflix features that have been released thus far.
With all it’s impressively thrilling action sequences that have all the blood and grit of those nostalgic R-rated 90’s action flicks and wild shenanigans courtesy of the MacGuffin magic wand; nothing here feels cheap or like a glorified TV movie as with some past Netflix features.
But the film’s core strength is it’s two main leads.
I’ve always loved Will Smith ever since he first stepped out of that rare cab on the popular tv show The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. Smith has a natural “adorkable” charisma that lighten up a room and posses solid acting chops to boot. Even if he may not always be in the best movies (Wild Wild West, Concussion), Smith always manages to elevate things somewhat and Bright is no exception.
Smith, much like with his previous role of Deadshot from Suicide Squad, utters plenty of hilarious one-liners while also being a more morally grey character than his previous roles. Despite being despicably racist and mean towards his Orc partner, Smith brings a certain vulnerability and humanism to the role that gives the down-on-his-luck Daryl Ward compelling layers.
Smith also shares great Bad Boys-like chemistry with co-star Joel Edgerton, who despite having to act with pounds of prosthetic Orc make-up, manages to still turn in a very solid performance. While I wish Nick Jakoby’s backstory was more thoroughly explored, Edgerton still manages to be compelling by playing up to the character’s innocence.
Much like with Ayer’s and Smith’s previous heavy flawed but enjoyable Suicide Squad, if you can accept Bright on the level of being a B-level low fantasy action flick with solid action and funny dialogue; then it’s passably fun on that level.
However, upon watching this I can’t help but feel that the concept presented would have been better served if it was a six part Netflix miniseries rather than a movie. The script is written by Max Landis; a screenwriter full of clever ideas but can’t coalesce them into a great screenplay to save his life (Ex. American Ultra, Mr. Right, Victor Frankenstein).
In all honesty, the further away we get from Chronicle, the more that movie is starting to look like a fluke.
Where the aforementioned Zootopia was able to deliver a surprisingly fair and balanced portrayal of societal racism and prejudice from all angles while still telling a compelling coherent story, Bright is not able to do the same. The first twenty minutes of this movie in particular lays the racism subtext on way too thick with particularly heavy-handed lines such as “Fairy Lives Don’t Matter”.
Sheesh, and I thought Spike Lee lacks subtlety.
Landis is also pedestrian when it comes to developing the backstory and fantasy LA setting, with the fantasy elements seemingly placed at pure random at times. For the most part Bright’s LA looks like normal LA with Orcs and Elves in it, but other times with little explanation there would be Guillermo del Toro-style magical trees, gothic seedy churches surrounded by normal square buildings, and a Dragon flying in the background (I bet a certain Dothrakian queen is worried sick right now).
There is also a subplot involving an Orc gang and Nick that is very sloppily injected into the third act that honestly felt like padding and it’s made worse by the fact that it leads to a moment that is frustratingly ripped straight from Training Day!!
I really liked the concept, the action, and the two main leads but it’s execution and attempts at world-building left much to be desired. There is a sequel currently in the works and despite my reservations, I am still personally interested enough to see what lies in store for Daryl and Nick next.… Expand
Average User Score: 4.1Jan 23, 2018I don't know what was scarier: seeing Jo Nesbo's thrilling Norwegian detective noir get shredded into an baffling incoherent mess or ValI don't know what was scarier: seeing Jo Nesbo's thrilling Norwegian detective noir get shredded into an baffling incoherent mess or Val Kilmer's sagging face and his jarring ADR'd voice.
I'm not a book purist in the least, but this movie takes what was overall a pretty straightforward mystery tale and changes so much to the point that the story's connective tissue was completely eliminated.
It also didn't help that given the tight shooting schedule, supposedly a good 15% of the script was never shot and boy does it really show. Characters and story threads are brought up and dropped with little to no explanation.
What was the whole point of the Gert Rafto, Rakel Fauke and Arve Stop plot-line? As far as the movie is concerned, I don't know?
The movie couldn't even nail down the Harry Hole character. Michael Fassbender tries his best, but despite Hole supposedly being a "great detective", he barely does any throughout.
Heck, Rakel Fauke does most of the detective work here!!
So much of what happens in this movie turns out to be completely meaningless once this mess reaches it's lame, stupid, and rushed conclusion. Seriously....the move not only rushes the pay-off but it just cuts off!!
There are some gorgeous snow landscape and the music by Marco Beltrami should have been in a better movie.
Outside of those things however, this was just a waste of such a prestigious cast and crew.… Expand
Average User Score: 6.3Jan 18, 2018No matter how much critical praise and award nominations Ridley Scott’s latest crime thriller may receive, it’s become increasingly likelyNo matter how much critical praise and award nominations Ridley Scott’s latest crime thriller may receive, it’s become increasingly likely that the film will forever be remembered as “the movie that replaced Kevin Spacey very quickly”.
Which is a shame but completely understandable.
Unless you have been hiding out in the Italian country side for the past three months, it’s likely you’ve heard that House of Card’s Kevin Spacey originally played J. Paul Getty (he even appeared in the first trailer) but due to being hit with multiple sexual harassment and assault allegations, TriStar Pictures and Scott decided back in November to completely reshoot all of JP Getty’s scenes with Captain von Trap himself, Christopher Plummer, in Spacey’s stead.
Now let’s take this into context for a second, with only a month left until release, Ridley had to completely reshoot almost half a movie and not only did he still complete it all in time for it’s December release (Plummer’s scenes were all shot over the course of an 8 day period), not an ounce of wear and tear is present in the final cut.
Sure there is some slightly obvious green screen going on in a flashback sequence depicting the Plummer Getty meeting with the Saudis in the desert, but it all turned out so impressively seamless. This certainly not a Justice League situation where that film was littered with awkward editing with the new scenes sticking out like a sore thumb.
Say what you will about how hit (Alien, Blade Runner) or miss (Alien Covenant, A Good Year) Ridley Scott can be, I got to admire his versatility as a director.
In a way, his latest crime thriller falls into that category of Ridley flicks like Body of Lies and American Gangster where they feel like more art-house versions of the type of movies his brother (Tony Scott) used to make.
As far as the story is concerned, it’s a pretty straightforward but intense kidnapping tale that somewhat has an over-arching theme regarding how “money can’t buy happiness” but nothing too profound as far as Scott is concerned. Scott is very much pulled back this time around with nothing too flashy but what really elevates the proceedings is the incredible ensemble cast and some really sharp dialogue.
The obvious main attraction is Christopher Plummer playing the notoriously frugal JP Getty. It’s not exactly a stretch for Plummer since he played a similarly greedy character in Spike Lee’s Inside Man but despite the quick shooting schedule, he delivers a pleasantly nuanced performance. You will be continuously shocked by how greedy Getty can be but at the same time, but Plummer instills enough of a warm human side to the rich billionaire that you end up pitying him at times.
In a way, Getty Senior is a prime example that getting rich tends to reveal precisely who your true friends are.
However our two main leads are Michelle Williams, playing the worried mother to Getty III, and Mark Wahlberg as Getty’s advisor and former CIA operative. Williams is great as a worrying mother and I can’t help but be impressed by how un-Mark Wahlberg Mark Wahlberg is in this movie. Despite being a former CIA agent, Wahlberg very much plays a mild-mannered business type and never turns into an action hero stereotype. Heck, he even manages to successfully hold back his signature Boston accent for the most part.
However, I think the real show-stealing performance was provided by French actor Romain Duris who plays Cinquanta, one of Getty III’s abductors. Despite being a kidnapper, Cinquanta sincerely wants to see Getty III survive through his ordeal. Duris and Charlie Plummer (Getty III) share a great fascinating poignant chemistry with each other and despite Cinquanta being a kidnaper, Duris instills so much charisma into the role that you can’t help but like him.
There are certainly flaws that prevent this from being a great film. Outside of his scenes with Duris, Charlie Plummer is unfortunately given the shaft when it comes to screen time. He does have one awesome scene, but for the most part we never really get to know Getty III too much outside of being the McGuffin. The movie also left a particularly bad taste in my mouth by having possibly one of the most cliche death scenes ever.
It’s far from one of Scott’s best films and one could argue the production history is probably more interesting than the film itself, but ATMITW remains a solid, classy, and exciting thriller that will make for great rainy afternoon viewing.
Although one day I would like to see the Kevin Spacey cut of the film just to compare the two performances.… Expand
Average User Score: 7.8Jan 17, 2018Loved the art direction and the Edo Japan setting. There are also some genuinely touching moments between Oei and her younger blind sister.Loved the art direction and the Edo Japan setting. There are also some genuinely touching moments between Oei and her younger blind sister.
But....that's kinda it.
The plot mostly boils down to an incoherent series of vignettes that never really build up to a story. I usually love it when animation takes the slice-of-life approach (Ex. Only Yesterday), which is something the film appears to be aiming for but it constantly undermines itself by placing odd supernatural elements in way that felt completely random.
As a historical biopic, it's very shallow and not very insightful when it comes to the art or the historical figures in question. It also commits the immortal sin of having the ending be one long exposition dumb about what happened to everybody.
This movie also has one of the most scatter-brained soundtracks I've ever heard in a feature film. It opens with Rolling Stones-esque rock tune....okay. Now it's traditional Japanese oriental music....okay. Now it's acoustic guitar.....MAKE UP YOUR MIND ALREADY!!!!!
I don't mind the movie taking "A Knight's Tale" approach of placing modern rock music to a period piece setting (it actually would have been something kinda fresh and different). But if you are gonna take this approach, you better commit!
Instead, the choice of soundtrack feels just as random as the story. During one particular downbeat sequence they play a really out-of-place piece of loud high-squealing guitar music that completely undermines the emotion of the scene.
It's a shame because I was really looking forward to this one but outside of a few poignant moments, Miss Hokusai ended just being heartbreakingly lackluster.… Expand
Average User Score: 6.5Jan 17, 2018Some okay action, chuckle-worthy moments, and the cast give it their best shot but at the end of the day, JL is crushingly average with someSome okay action, chuckle-worthy moments, and the cast give it their best shot but at the end of the day, JL is crushingly average with some baffling creative choices.
I just had trouble caring about what was going on in the plot. It felt very choppy and rushed in the first 3/4 with bland exposition heavy dialogue. There are some moments of humanity througout (mostly from Cyborg and Wonder Woman) but they are few and far between.
I found Barry Allen annoying as hell and while Jason Momoa is charismatic as Aquaman, his character didn't really serve much purpose to the plot outside of being brute comic relief.
What is kinda weird is that Zack Snyder films are usually blessed with grade A visuals but JL was surprisingly weak in this department. Most of the action fails to excite and is un-inventive.
There are also plenty of shockingly artificial-looking CGI and green screen effects shots that looked like they needed another rendering pass.
Let's not even get into Henry Cavill's uncanny-valley stiff upper lip.
The villain Steppenwolf also looked terrible (in addition to just being a bland villain on the whole) and reminded me of the Enchantress' brother from Suicide Squad.
I didn't come out necessarily disliking JL, but given this is the first live-action rendition of the first superhero team, this should have been so much more better and eventful.
Instead it's draggy, anti-climactic and forgettable.… Expand
Average User Score: 7.2Jan 17, 2018Love the alternate history angle, the gothic Tim Burton-esque post-apocalyptic visuals, and the action sequences are creative andLove the alternate history angle, the gothic Tim Burton-esque post-apocalyptic visuals, and the action sequences are creative and well-executed.
Wished I cared more for the characters and the plot really doesn't make a whole lot of sense.… Expand
Average User Score: 7.0Jan 17, 2018“Water is like love, it has no shape. It takes the shape of whatever it inhabits. It’s the most powerful element in the universe. It’s gentle,“Water is like love, it has no shape. It takes the shape of whatever it inhabits. It’s the most powerful element in the universe. It’s gentle, flexible, but breaks through every barrier.”-Guillermo del Toro
Despite del Toro’s love for comics, gothic visuals, giant mechs, and practical monster effects; the famous Spanish director has always been a bit of a romantic at heart as demonstrated by the above quote.
From his more artsy Spanish films (Devil’s Backbone, Pan’s Labyrinth) to the more mainstream efforts (Hellboy and Pacific Rim), there is a touching reoccurring theme concerning the idea of societal outsiders and marginalized individuals finding solace within each other’s company.
With his fascination with fairy tales, it seemed only a matter of time before del Toro took a stab at creating a straight-out romance tale, which comes in the form of his latest feature that gives a great twist to the “Beauty and the Beast” concept.
What makes TSOW probably one of del Toro’s best films since The Devil’s Backbone is that taken on a pure conceptual level, the inter-species romance angle could have easily been awkward and almost kitschy if done by lesser hands. But del Toro’s mathematical but delicate storytelling, impressive set designs, and the incredibly layered performances from the silent Sally Hawkins and Doug Jones, despite wearing a thick rubber monster costume, turns TSOW into one of the most touching and honest romance tales in quite a while.
The performances in general are incredible across the board, arguably the best when it comes to del Toro’s English-language movie canon. Hawkins is obviously magnetic in the lead but Michael Shannon as the openly racist research team leader Richard Strickland easily joins the canon of Jacinto (The Devil’s Backbone) and Captain Vidal (Pan’s Labyrinth) in del Toro’s brand of genuinely terrifying but tragic human villains.
But the person that I feel really stole the show was Richard Jenkins, playing Elisa’s down-on-his-luck friend/neighbor and closeted commercial artist Giles. Giles by far feels like the most down-to-earth character in this fantastical tale and you really do feel sorry for his plight in life. For most of the movie Giles and Elisa’s coworker Zelda (Octavia Spencer) have to verbalize the mute Elisa’s sign language; giving way to some unique interactions. Giles also provides some great subtle moments of comic relief.
Praise should also be level at the spell-binding score by Alexandre Desplat (The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Imitation Game, Argo), giving a film with admittedly strange subject manner a timeless classy atmosphere that further contributes to the fairy tale quality. The accordion and whistle-heavy music that plays over the film’s mesmerizing opening underwater dream sequence was the first sign that I was watching something truly special.
The movie on the whole has a magical Old Hollywood feel to the whole thing, which is something different compared to del Toro’s previous efforts. It’s not the type of Old Hollywood tribute that feels pandering either (Ex. La La Land), it all feels born out of genuine affection and is completely at the service of painting the film’s intoxicating atmosphere.
TSOW on the whole is a pretty unconventional movie that is hard to pigeonhole into a single genre.
It’s part “Beauty Meets Beast” romance, part creature-feature, part period piece, part fairy tale, part science fiction and part spy thriller. There is also the fact that this is an R-rated del Toro flick and while it’s not nearly as violent as Pan’s Labyrinth, there are a few scenes that will make you wince or shiver in uncomfortableness.
Even with the trailers it’s obvious the distributor’s Fox Searchlight Pictures could not crack the egg on how to market the movie. Hopefully it will continue to get more attention due to it’s appearance on many critic’s “best of” lists and with award season underway; but regardless del Toro’s latest masterwork is one of the 2017’s best.… Expand
Average User Score: 8.7Jan 17, 2018Cheesy and dated but nonetheless remains a solid action-packed vampire slaying epic with a kick-ass soundtrack.
Wesley Snipes brings aCheesy and dated but nonetheless remains a solid action-packed vampire slaying epic with a kick-ass soundtrack.
Wesley Snipes brings a memorable Clint Eastwood-style gruffness to the title character but Stephen Dorff is also a joy to watch, making for a fun villain.
Although I will admit Deacon Frosts evil plan made absolutely no sense and the third act felt very baggy in it's pacing.… Expand
Average User Score: 4.4Jan 11, 2018I am not a big fan of the Star Wars (SW) movies.
That’s not to say I don’t find the original SW trilogy fun, but it’s mostly from a visualI am not a big fan of the Star Wars (SW) movies.
That’s not to say I don’t find the original SW trilogy fun, but it’s mostly from a visual effects and action standpoint. However, from a storytelling and character perspective; SW was always lacking for me.
These same issues carried over to the J.J. Abrams-directed soft reboot The Force Awakens where despite grade-A action and visuals effects; suffered from an overly-formulaic plot that felt more like a glorified teaser for future movies than a real story. That and the Mary Sue protagonist, a disappointing villain in the form of Kylo Ren, and ANOTHER rehash of the Death Star plot.
I felt very divided as I was watching LJ. Rarely have I watched a movie where moments of sheer awesomeness are intermixed with moments that made me want to smack the upside of my head!
LJ carries over the tradition of the last two SW entries by being some of the most gorgeously executed special effects extravaganzas of the modern age. I also really liked the sequences in which Rey is exploring the Force as well as her own emotional insecurities stemming from her uncertainty to her place in the universe.
I also liked how Johnson gives these sequences a slightly surreal and psychological portrayal, much like how it was in the original trilogy.
There were also admittedly plenty of laugh-out-loud moments throughout too, in fact, it maybe the funniest SW movie to date.
From a filmmaking and cinematography standpoint, SW has really never looked better!
It’s when we get into discussions about the actual plot and story that LJ causes major disturbances. Johnson is credited as the sole writer and I give him plenty of credit with being bold enough try new things with the Star Wars formula. Johnson is hardly a “safe” filmmaker like J.J. Abrams.
The storyline involving Rey, Luke, and Ren is by far the most interesting stuff.
Luke’s character is taken in a very unexpected direction and Mark Hamill is more than capable of pulling off a more weary, vulnerable, and morally-greyed version of the iconic space hero. Rey still remains over-powered but she did feel less like a Mary Sue this time around due to the focus on her emotional insecurities. That and the fascinating new layer given to the dynamic between Rey and Ren.
Speaking of Ren, I’ve always liked Adam Driver and it was nice to see him being given better material to work with this time around. If Johnson succeeded at anything, it was turning Ren from a overgrown pathetic whiny brat to the complicated lost soul that FA attempted to portray him as but failed. If anything Ren is by far the best character now because he is the only one that goes through any real arc in LJ outside of Luke.
Because outside of the Rey, Luke and Ren storyline; everything else about the plot is an under explained and baffling mess with so-many questionable creative choices.
Like with Alien Covenant, if you are hoping for any answers to the questions posed by FA, then you are going to be severely disappointed.
Instead of being given more backstory that would help contextualize the drama and make us more invested in the plot; signifiant time is wasted following Finn (Boyega) and Rose Tico (Tran) on a planet straight from The Fifth Element in search of a codebreaker that I swear was ENTIRELY POINTLESS!!!
Who is Rose Tico?
Probably the most blatant example of adding an unnecessary character to a movie in a predictable attempt to appeal to Asian markets since Angelababy from Independence Day: Resurgence. It also doesn’t help that Tran is given some of the worst dialogue in the movie.
The First Order also continues it’s tradition of being the most incompetent evil oppressive empire since…well…the Empire. The Resistance also showcases baffling levels of incompetence. While I really enjoy Poe as a character due to Isaac’s effortlessly charismatic portrayal, his continuous unruly attitude and disregard for chain of command severely makes you question the quality of Leia’s judgement.
Laura Dern also randomly shows up in the movie as a supposed “legendary” Resistance leader although with that stupid purple wig she looks more like a hipster college professor if anything. I love Dern but she was simply wasted in this despite having one admittedly awesome scene, a literal non-character.
It’s not like I didn’t have some fun watching LJ, heck I think it is a slight step above FA, but I simply can’t ignore the questionable script on display. I personally can’t understand how anybody, critics or otherwise, can watch this and FA and tell me with a straight face they are examples of quality writing.
It’s far from the worst Star Wars movie, that honor goes to Attack of the Clones and it’s “worse than Twilight” chemistry-free love story between Anakin Skywalker and Padme, but it’s certainly not one of the best.… Expand
Average User Score: 7.6Jan 11, 2018Gerwig’s directorial debut is an extremely confident and poignant tale of a teenage girl as she navigates through one year of her life as aGerwig’s directorial debut is an extremely confident and poignant tale of a teenage girl as she navigates through one year of her life as a Catholic school student in Sacramento, California.
Stylistically this independent feature is very reminiscent of the understated documentary vibe of Richard Linklator’s Boyhood with it’s impressionistic editing and willingness to just…..well…show a life (Ex. teenagers hanging out, practicing for a lame school play, first dates, being away from home at college).
So I guess an alternative title for this would be Girlhood?
Actually, I think LB manages to surpass Boyhood because it makes it’s points regarding life and growing pains in a more efficient and energetic way in it’s ninety minute runtime than Boyhood in nearly three hours thanks to it’s disciplined editing and sharp dialogue.
But by far the highlight of the film is the tumultuous dynamic between Christine and her mother (Metcalf), especially one particularly uncomfortable but funny sequence involving something as timeless as shopping for a prom dress. The acting by both Ronan and Metcalf is more than deserving of the accolades. Anybody who has ever had a difficult relationship with their mother will find a lot of moments in this movie that will hit close to home.
Even though there is plenty of drama to go around, there are also a lot of laugh-out-loud moments, especially between Christine and her friend Julie (Beanie Feldstein). Probably my favorite little moment was a scene in which Christine and Julie are goofing around in a church that exhibits some very cute bonding moments presented in a hilariously unconventional manner. It all feels very down-to-earth, personal and…well….real.
That is almost the key word here: real.
Everything about this movie feels true to life. There are no big moral speeches, no over-the-top melodrama, no sense of self-importance, or calculated soundtrack inserts.
If I had any complaint about this film it’s regarding Father Leviatch, Christine’s theater instructor played by Stephen McKinley Henderson. There is a certain reveal regarding his character about halfway through that never really ends up having a pay-off. I know the movie is called LB, so in the end it is about Christine journey but I wouldn’t be surprised if something significant got left in the editing room because Leviatch just kinda disappears after a while.… Expand