Jessica Chastain as a lady assassin. What could go wrong?
Well…it’s not that this movie is all bad, but it could have been a lot better.
There’s star power. Colin Farrell. Geena Davis. John Malkovich. Common.
But alas, the plot is rather thin.
Chastain plays Ava, a woman who, years ago, had a falling out with her family and ran away to join the army and later, become a hitwoman for hire, beholden to a mysterious agency, Malkovich playing Duke, her handler.
The reasoning for the running away from her fam – well, it sucks but in the grand scheme of things, everyone probably has a story or two to tell about the time they came of age and realized that their parents and/or siblings weren’t the heroes they thought they were when they were young. I won’t spoil it but as backstories go, it seems more like a story that would make a young person want to get a job at Walmart and get a crappy apartment just to get some personal space and not the kind of story where you’d become an assassin but whatever.
The story fluctuates between the main plot of Ava vs her agency, i.e. she has begun to question whether it is right to be an assassin and thus the agency wants to take her out before she grows a conscience. It would probably be good if it focused on this, but it delves into sideplots – i.e. Ava returns to her hometown and squabbles with her mother (Geena Davis, once a great beauty and I think it would have been better if she’d grown old gracefully rather than try to cling to youth with plastic surgery but to the flim’s credit this is poked fun at) and her sister, who is now betrothed to Ava’s old boyfriend, played by Common. In a third subplot, Ava takes on the underground gambling operation that Common’s character owes money to.
There are parts where the acting falls a little flat, but I don’t want to call out the offending actors. Not that it matters. Only 3.5 people read this blog anyway.
My feeling is with a better script this movie could have been a lot better but instead it serves as sort of a showcase for the talents of a lot of actors and perhaps a stepping stone for Chastain to enter into the badass female character genre.
But I’ll be honest, if it weren’t for COVID shutting down theaters, I probably wouldn’t have wasted much time with this.
BQB here with a review of Disney’s live action Mulan.
God, I’m old. When I was a young lad, newly minted driver’s license in hand, I took a girl to see the cartoon version of this movie and we were blown away by it, for it was ahead of its time. I think it might have been like my first actual date.
In the blink of an eye, 22 years and my hair are gone and the original film is now considered culturally insensitive because it had a talking cartoon dragon who, I’m just saying, sold the movie.
And what the hell happened to that girl anyway? I’d look her up online but I’m worried she might have lost her hair too.
Fun sidenote: She taught me how to put sauce on Taco Bell tacos after the movie. Up until then I didn’t know you were able to request a sauce packet to squirt on your taco. It blew my mind and I think of this girl whenever I squirt sauce into my taco and yes I know how that sounded and I’m sorry for poor phrasing but you’re the one with the dirty mind because I’m just meditating on a time when I was young and innocent and blown away by things that seem silly and trivial to adult eyes. And yes, I stand by the decision of taking a date to Taco Bell.
But enough about me. Mulan is back, in live action form this time. There’s a cast of martial arts movie maestros including Donnie Yen and Jet Li. Liu Yifei takes on the role of the everyone’s favorite girl who pretends to be a boy so she can save her father by taking her place when the Emperor comes looking for soldiers to fight an invading army.
Lots of dazzling special effects, stunts, swordplay, etc. It is more of a fantasy war epic. I don’t really know what the kids like nowadays but I assume they will like it. Merch opportunities are gone as there won’t be any cuddly Mushu stuffies to sell and if Disney doesn’t like that, they aren’t saying anything.
I have to say I still like the cartoon version better, because, and OK, I get it, if you cut out the un-woke parts, the part where Mulan takes out the invading army by starting an avalanche is cool and also the part at the end where it looks like its a celebration only for there to be a surprise ending where Mulan has to foil the bad guys once again….cool stuff.
Also, you can’t beat the Emperor’s line in the old one. While encouraging the captain to go after Mulan, he says, “You don’t meet a girl like that every dynasty.”
That line always stuck in my head. There was a girl I met later in my 20s who was one of those girls. I wish the Emperor had been around to remind me that you don’t meet a girl like this every dynasty, so I guess I can blame the rise of communism for missing out a great catch and the fact that now the highlights of my day are microwave dinners for one and writing on a blog that is only read by 3.5 people.
Sidenote: I actually did look this girl up and she kept her game tight so…yeah I don’t know, since I didn’t I probably did her a favor by being an oblivious dummy who decided to play the field without realizing that the field was destined to play him.
At any rate, this new Mulan is still pretty good and worth a watch. Is it worth the 30 bucks that Disney makes you pay for it via Disney Plus? Eh, that’s up to you. Theaters would have been packed for this so Disney missed out on all that revenue, so I get they have to make it back somehow.
It does make me wonder about the future of film. While people sometimes cheer the downfall of movie theaters, I think people have to remember that a lot of these special effects heavy blockbusters can’t be made unless you have that first wave of ticket sales, then the second wave of rentals and then finally whatever is left that comes from cable and streaming.
So, let’s keep hoping that COVID goes the way of the dodo, or the Mushu (sorry, Eddie) and that theaters will be at full capacity and slinging popcorn soon.
I loved this movie as a kid. If you’ve never seen or heard of it, you’re in for a treat. In fact, you should drop what you are doing and stop reading this and go watch it and then come back. If you read on then without seeing it, the surprise will be spoiled for you.
Ok, for those who stayed, Bill Murray stars as Grimm, a NYC city planner and ultimately, an average guy who, with the help of his girlfriend, Phyllis (Gina Davis) and longtime friend, Loomis (Randy Quaid) rob a bank.
The opening bank robbery scene is clever, hysterical and full of twists, so again, if you haven’t seen it, go watch it.
Ironically, while the bank robbery is a success, the trio have the worst time making a getaway. Loomis is jarringly stupid and that stupidity catches up with them, but on top of that, the city conspires against them at every turn. Their goal is to catch a flight to the Caribbean, but mobsters, gun wielding citizens, muggers, cab drivers who are terrible at their jobs, incompetent city workers who don’t know how to put up directional signs, bus drivers who demand exact change and convenience store owners who won’t give change unless they buy something are among the many challenges they must face as what should be a quick trip to the airport turns into a night long nightmare.
As if that isn’t enough, they are being chased by legendary police chief Walt Rotzinger (Jason Robards) a veteran lawman with reputation for always getting his man.
The cool thing about this movie is you end up rooting for both sides. While in reality, you should never root for someone to get away with a crime, it is hard not to, on a fictional level, root for Grimm and friends to make their escape because these are not hardened criminals but rather, just a trio of average schmoes who up and said screw it one day and decided to cheat a system that has long been cheating them.
On the other hand, retirement looms large on Rotzinger’s mind, and though he has successfully closed a number of historic, headline grabbing cases, he fears that if he does not nab this robber (a robber who dressed like a clown gets a lot of media attention), the press will have a field day and his career will have been for naught.
I’ve always thought this movie didn’t get as much credit as it deserved. Murray tends to be remembered for his franchises like Ghostbusters, or one and dones like Groundhog Day or What About Bob but if it hasn’t gotten it already, this one deserves your attention.
I’ll give you all a chance to see it but I’ll say at front, I liked this movie a lot, which surprised me because I went in fully with the mindset that I was going to hate the ever loving butt crap out of it.
I just thought the Last Jedi sucked big donkey butt, and by extension, the Force Awakens too. My impression of Force Awakens was it was ok but all it did was ask questions, and at the time I thought, well, if the next movie answers these questions then it will pay off but instead, all Last Jedi did was fart in our faces on every answer.
Good as this movie was, it reeks of the writing work of that kid you knew in college…we all knew one, right? You know, the one who would dick around all semester, screw around and get F’s on every assignment and then at the last minute, grab a six pack of energy drinks and pull on all nighter so as to get an A on the final paper, thus bringing his overall course grade to a gentlemen’s C?
That’s the irony here. As a series, I’d give the latest trilogy an overall C, but I’d give the last movie an A.
This movie seems like the writers were having a come to Jesus (come to Yoda?) moment and decided to stop jerking us all around. Stop asking questions only to fart in our faces when we seek answers. We will eventually stop seeking answers if all we get are farts, just as Charlie Brown will, we hope, one day stop trying to kick Lucy’s football when he realizes that she’s going to pull it away.
That’s how this film felt. It felt like Lucy finally let us, as Charlie, kick the football.
Overall, a fun ride and when you go in waiting to take a dump on it only to be pleasantly surprised, it’s a relief.
The sad part is they had it in them to do great all along, so one wonders why they didn’t do it with the first two but, oh well. This movie keeps the franchise alive.
3.5 readers, I’m not sure what I just say. I’m blown away, elated, astounded and disgusted, so let’s just dive right in.
The Emperor is alive. He has been all along. Sorry if that’s a spoiler but it’s not like that hasn’t been promoted in the ads and trailers. Frankly, this comes out of left field to me and reeks of bad writing. I mean, the Emperor was not even so much as hinted to in the last two films, so to bring him about in this one?
Yet somehow, it makes sense. Turns out the Emperor is strong with the Dark Side of the Force, so strong that nothing can contain him, and that the ghosts of Obi Wan and Anakin Skywalker have kept a constant vigil over the old duffer for many years, ensuring he does not return.
Admittedly, the light saber dual between Kylo, ghost Obi Wan and ghost Anakin was cool, though odd. Seems like it defies all physics. Ghosts can’t fight, can they? And would Kylo really be able to defeat them? Unlikely. Fun to watch.
Meanwhile, Rey has reunited with Poe, Finn, and Chewbacca on N’rokto. Rose Tico has received a tip that a local warlord has intercepted a communique between Kylo and the Emperor. SPOILER ALERT: the warlord is Lando Calrissian and Billy Dee Williams shines in the last cameo from the original trilogy cast.
From there, it’s a race film. Who can make it to the rejuvenating chambers of Hermera in time? Will the heroes get there and destroy them so the Emperor remains depleted for all of time or will Kylo and the Emperor arrive first so that the Emperor can get rejuvenated so that he can fuck shit the fuck up all across the galaxy?
Strangely, the movie relies heavily on the ghosts, which is odd because I always thought the ghosts were just an occasional gimmick or writing ploy when one of the characters needs to know what a departed character may have thought. But the ghosts are heavy in this one and the ghosts of Luke, Han and Leia advise the heroes that the quickest way to the chamber is through the Hermera’s core, which actually serves as a gateway to an alternate reality.
By this point, I admit I was beginning to fade. The movie is a very long two and a half hours, but it picks up midway with the intense flying stormtrooper scene. Frankly, most of the film is a mad chase. Think, It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World with lightsabers. Or Smokey and the Bandit with lightsabers, if you will. The heroes and the villains are in a death defying race to see who can get to the rejuvenation chamber first.
Here’s my main complaint. The entrance to an alternate reality, to me, just seems like a cop out. C3P0, in a rather tender moment, sacrifices himself to hold the gateway open and it is implied that the alternate reality gateway might just be held open forever…so as you can imagine, this gives way to many fan theories suggesting that the entire series might be rebooted. Maybe in another alternate reality universe, the events of the films never happened and it will all begin again with new actors.
Disney has been tight lipped about this, but I would assume that Bruce Decker, the young actor who plays what appears to be a youthful Luke for a brief amount as the alternate reality is passed through will no doubt become quite famous soon. Boy, did he ever land a role of a lifetime. I really think Disney has to say something about the future of the series at some point, but maybe they are holding off so as to not give any spoilers.
Oh don’t read this review as there are spoilers. Sorry it took me so long to say that.
There’s a lot of fan service. Almost too much. And a lot of questions answered. Almost too many. It’s like the execs got together in a room and decided they needed more fan service and more questions answered to make up for all the douchebaggery that was perpetrated in the last two films.
Did I need to know Rey’s parentage? Sure. Did I need to know that her parents were Obi Wan and a random barmaid? Probably not. Lowers my esteem of Obi…or raises it. He’s only human after all. And it’s not like he could have taken care of the kid. He was only alive briefly when he took possession of a human form long enough to bang a barmaid after all.
And did Chewbacca have to be named the Supreme Chancellor of the New Republic? Maybe. Maybe not. I guess it makes sense. He’s the last of the original characters still alive. Just, you’d think the furry fuck would put some pants on already.
Finally, let me just say that from the very opening scene in which the Star Wars universe’s very first homosexual kiss was shared, I knew this was a very different movie, brought to you courtesy of a very new generation. The millennials are uber woke, and they want that wokeness on screen. I assumed that Rey would end up with Finn…and when Rey looks like she is about to kiss her tour guide, Kez Bongo, I was like wow, the first lesbian kiss in a Star Wars film but nope…turns out the first homosexual kiss went to Poe and Finn, who have been sharing feelings for a long time, ever since they met in the first film.
Touching to be sure, but I don’t think the 25 minute see where these two raw dog each other in the butt was necessary. I mean, it’s a kid’s film, damn it.
Anyway, just kidding. My 3.5 readers know I always post a joke Star Wars review. I’ll post a real one when I see it. Don’t tell me any spoilers please.
I’m going to go out on a limb here and say I don’t like the It movies.
However, I admit that I don’t like them because they scare me on a psychological level, which is, I suppose, Stephen King’s overall goal, thus quite ironically, what makes the movie a success makes me not want to watch it again.
Both films deal with how children grow up and confront their fears, how they either overcome the obstacles that hold them back and succeed or if they don’t, are eventually consumed by them.
Frankly, the first film would have been enough, but I suppose the second shows how in a weird way, even as adults, we are still kids inside, unsure of ourselves, scared of the future, afraid to confront our demons.
“It,” a demonic being that often takes the form of uber scary clown Pennywise, takes great joy in exploiting the fears of a group of kids, later turned adults, in Derry, Maine. As the second installment progresses, each adult will have to face a fear that has paralyzed them since childhood, and the old clown is there at every turn, rubbing their fears in their faces.
So, on a psychological level, yeah, the movie will mess you up. I’m an adult man and I had trouble sleeping after this one, though less so than after the first one. Sometimes too much of anything and while Pennywise had me shitting my pants in the first one, and for most of the second, I eventually just felt by the end of the second that someone should just drop a nuclear missile on this dumbass clown’s head and be down with it already.
There’s a lot of things I don’t like. For example, kids getting murdered. Kids getting their heads chomped off by a clown. I get that its about confronting the fears that have plagued you since childhood, but come on, we don’t need to see children being murdered in such gruesome detail. Maybe split the difference and have the clown’s big teeth coming at the kid, then cut away, but no, they show the kids getting chomped in horrifying detail. Gross, disgusting and unnecessary.
Some great performances by the adult losers – Jessica Chastain, Bill Hader and the guy who plays Young Professor X being the only ones I recognize, though all did well.
STATUS: Shelf-worthy, though please keep it off my shelf. I never want to see it again, which I suppose means King did his work.
You know 3.5 readers, when the women folk say the world is biased against them, they might be onto something.
After all, you never see a movie with a studly dude who gets charmed by a chubby nerd girl. (This is where someone points me to that movie to prove me wrong.)
At any rate, Charlize Theron is the super hot Secretary of State Charlotte Field. At a swanky cocktail party, she is reunited with her childhood friend Fred Flarsky, Seth Rogen as the windbreaker loving, foul mouthed out of work journalist in need of a job.
When an actor turned president played by Bob Odenkirk decides he’d rather return to acting, Field is the frontrunner. She taps Flarsky as a speechwriter and soon enough, a romance is kindled.
Potty humor and most jokes revolve around getting the hot Theron to say naughty things.
It’s funny and that’s saying something with the state of comedy today.
And they say the Klansman’s heart grew two sizes that day.
BQB here with a review of The Best of Enemies.
Making this movie was a gamble in this day and age. It’s based on the true story of how, in 1971, African American community organizer and civil rights activist Ann Atwater (Taraji P. Henson) and Ku Klux Klan leader CP Ellis (Sam Rockwell) came together and became unlikely friends and allies while working together on a committee that would decide whether or not to integrate a school in Durham, South Carolina.
Understandably, in this day and age, there is no forgiveness for racism, even for a racist who claims to have seen the light and claims to be reformed. Ergo, while movies such as this or “The Green Book” have stories about a racist jerk who abandons his racist ways after spending time and coming to care about black people, an ex-racist isn’t going to get a medal today. Sorry, but we live in a time now where you know not to be racist from the beginning.
Despite all that, the story does have a message that is worth noting, especially in today’s toxic political environment. In the past, school integration was such a divisive issue that you might recall the Army had to be called in to watch the backs of African American students regarding the case of Brown vs. Board of Education.
In 1971, the community of Durham took a different approach. It was decided to hold a two week meeting in which community leaders, black and white, got together to discuss their differences on the topic of integrating the local school in the wake of a fire that made the school for African American students unsuitable.
CP Ellis, the local head klansman, naturally hates the idea. Meanwhile, Ann Attwater, a tireless voice fighting for the rights of African Americans, argues the community can’t expect African American kids to learn in a burnt out husk of a ruined school building.
As the two weeks long discussion group progresses, both sides get to know each other and the underlying lesson is that if enemies would just sit down and break bread, they might realize the other is, despite all their flaws, human and compromise might be had. True, asking for a compromise with a klansman is pretty unreasonable to say the least but the message seems to be that because both sides sat down and talked rather than meet on picket lines to hurl insults, progress was made.
There’s no redemption for Ellis in today’s woke America, and no one’s arguing there should be. Still, as he sits with his arch nemesis Ann and gets to know her as a person, and then starts to get to know other African Americans, he starts to learn their plight and how wrong his actions as a klansman have been. Meanwhile, though Ann is the underdog hero in the fight and doesn’t have anything to prove to Ellis, she does get to know him and when she learns of some of his personal problems that led him to become such a hardened bastard, she starts to pity him.
I don’t know. The movie is a tough sell and the idea that a klansman could ever be welcomed back into polite society isn’t going to win much applause. However, the message that political opponents should stop hurling insults and threats and start sitting down and actually talking and finding out just what it is that the other side fears, be those fears rational or irrational, a path toward a solution might be presented.
Nyeah, a couple of old cowboys are going to take down Bonnie and Clyde, see?
BQB here with a review of Netflix’s The Highwaymen.
It’s the 1930s and murderous boyfriend/girlfriend duo Bonnie and Clyde are tearing through the country and Texas in particular, machine gunning their way to fame and fortune one bank at a time.
You’d think people would be disgusted by that sort of thing but remember, it was the Great Depression, and many an American had been ousted out of their home by the banks. Ergo, Bonnie and Clyde were cheered on as celebrities, a new version of Robin Hood, though they didn’t give their dough away to the masses and they gunned down a multitude of lawmen, often in instances it wasn’t necessary for escape but they just thought it seemed like a fun thing to do.
Enter Frank Hamer and Maney Gault (Kevin Costner and Woody Harrelson, respectively), a couple of old cowboys in a world that doesn’t want them anymore. In their younger days, they rode the open range on horseback as Texas Rangers, roaming all over the American territories, jurisdiction be damned, just to get their man.
Both are old men living quiet lives but wracked with guilt over the blood they spilled in the name of justice. Frank married a rich younger woman and works as a security consultant for an oil company. Maney didn’t luck out as well. He lives on the couch in his grown daughter’s house. Depression has got the best of him and he feels like a burden.
With the introduction of cars and interstate travel, America has entered into a sort of Wild West Part II phase. Cowboys like Hamer and Gault may have tamed the West, but now, with multiple jurisdictions, state lines, and highways that can take a driver anywhere, the powers that be are clueless how to stop a two-person murder crew. Even worse, they can’t or won’t share information with each other. Add in the FBI with modern tech (for that day) and you’ve got a lot of people investigating but not communicating.
Miriam “Ma” Ferguson, the governor of Texas at the time (Kathy Bates) begrudgingly allows Hamer and Gault to be reinstated, even though the Texas Rangers are considered an old relic of a long forgotten past. Hamer and Gault are old, achy, sore, in rough shape and Gault needs to stop every five minutes to take a leak but they are experts on one thing that the younger breed of lawman isn’t, namely – tracking. Find a clue, follow it to another clue, then follow that to another one…and follow it across state lines if need be. After all, no one claimed a jurisdictional beef on their horseback days, but now, they’ll have to sneak around the backs of the Feds, Sheriffs, police chiefs, etc. as they move state by state, keeping their investigation to themselves as Bonnie and Clyde have been known to buy the loyalty of many a corrupt official.
Bonnie and Clyde themselves are seen very little, and that’s likely by design. Although the two with their tommy guns are iconic, there have been movies before where the duo are romanticized as free love birds sticking it to the man. This one is more on the nose, that they’re just two assholes who don’t want to work and are having fun and don’t value human life enough to not gun down whoever crosses them. Thus, to give them big scenes where they’re tearing up scenery with their gats would probably be to give them more attention than they deserve.
Accordingly, this one’s on the duo who caught them, and perhaps even an ode to the old folks who are struggling to keep up with a changing world yet are still needed because they remember how to do things that aren’t done anymore – which sounds useless until you need that thing done.
BQB here with a review of Disney’s latest remake of one of its classic cartoons, Dumbo.
This was always going to be a hard sell because the original Dumbo from the 1940s did not age well. It was about a little elephant with big ears and everyone made fun of him because he was different and was essentially a tale about how kids shouldn’t do that to other kids, somewhat woke or its time.
But then again, Dumbo also had friends, one of whom was a crow who was a stereotypical caricature of an African American named Jim Crow after the laws that kept African Americans down at the time. He was also the BFF of a mouse who he got accidentally drunk with only to hallucinate and see all kinds of crazy shit in a fever dream montage so…yeah. I know that montage scared the crap out of me as a kid.
Also, though the anti-bullying message holds up, the elephant’s actual name is Dumbo in that people just called the little guy dumb and it stuck and no one thought to change it so he could have some self respect. Oh, and circuses don’t have elephant shows anymore because somewhere along the line we decided as a society that it was uncool to watch live animals get paraded around and forced to do drinks for our amusement.
Ergo, Disney had a lot, and I mean a lot, to change here, so much so one wonders why they didn’t just leave this one to remain in the vault next to Song of the South.
In this version, Colin Farrell plays a soldier who returns home from WWI without an arm…and oh, by the way his wife died while he was there and also his children were being raised all the while by the circus performers he used to perform with as a trick shooting cowboy. So, yeah, a lot of misery straight out of the gate.
Danny DeVito is the ringleader and the circus is struggling as times are changing. Blah, blah, blah, enter baby Dumbo who everyone hates at first because he has big ears but then it turns out he can fly, so the moral of the story really hasn’t changed i.e. don’t be mean to kids who are different because one day they might turn out to have special skills that make them rich and famous and they’ll leave you in the cold but uh…if they don’t have any skills and just have to go through life with a deformity then….it’s ok to make fun of them I guess?
Oh well. It’s not perfect. Blah, blah, blah, long story short, Dumbo is discovered by an evil, big corporate theme park owner played by Michael Keaton (Apparently, no one at Disney saw the irony). Devito is scammed into giving up his intellectual property rights to the elephant (No one at Disney saw the irony) and when Dumbo is separated from his mother, he bands together with Farrell, the kids, and a French acrobat (Eva Green) to burn the big corporate theme park to the ground so Dumbo and his Mom can return to India and Devito can create a new park where performers are treated well and their dignity isn’t sacrificed on the altar of the almighty dollar (No one at Disney saw that irony.)
Sidenote – actually, Dumbo just escapes but in his rage at being bested, Keaton’s character accidentally burns his park to the ground but ok, enough spoilers for this review.
STATUS: Borderline shelf-worthy. The best that probably could have been done to remake a movie that didn’t hold up over time. The irony is that the original and the remake are both critical of how the entertainment industry sacrifices performer dignity, chewing them up and spitting them out, just sucking the money out until the next big thing comes along and uh, maybe uh, you know, in that line of thinking, Dumbo could have been left to the history books, stuff that cartoon fans could have watched with a modern critical eye but the remake to suck more money out of it could have been skipped.
Because at the end of the day, despite all the wokeness that was crowbarred into a story that was not woke the first time around, some Hollywood somewhere decided that the elephant still had to be called Dumbo and couldn’t get a new name because, you know, it isn’t cool to call the elephant dumb. You couldn’t call it Jumbo and still get the fan recognition ticket sales. Oh well. Michael Keaton’s character wins.