One of the reasons for the slow releases here on TYTL was the fact that i had seen a lot of films that i wanted to write reviews on, and subsequently i didn’t. This happened last year as well, and films that were deserving of a full write up didn’t get one (“Arrival” is the biggest regret) while they were still in theatres.
In an effort to remedy this situation, i’m going to do a compromise of bite sized reviews for the projects that i saw that didn’t (and won’t for some time) get their Good, Bad, and Ugly sides aired out.
So after that preamble lets get to the reviews.
GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. II
A buddy and i went to this one, he was crazy for the first one and i wasn’t remotely interested in it. Mostly because it looked like it was filled with smarmy, witty, insufferable dialog which i look forward to about as much as a staph infection.
Thankfully Vol. II was genuinely funny, in fact it was hilarious. Which is by far the film’s greatest asset, and was worth going to for the laughs alone.
Unfortunately with the laughs came ham handed attempts to pull at my heart strings, which weren’t as interesting as the funny bits. In fact everyone of the major characters has their dirty laundry aired out which ranges from good (Starlord’s daddy issues), cliched (Nebula/Gamora’s “I just wanted a sister” routine), and unnecessarily dramatic (the raccoon man’s abandonment issues).
Also the post credit reveal of Adam (Adam Warlock apparently) reminded me of the incredibly earnest shrug i gave at the end credits of Age of Ultron. It’s a reminder at the days when these post credit scenes were a surprise, and actually elicited some response out of me. Now they’re so obligatory people stay after the credits of other movies to see if anything else is shown.
In the end the movie was fun, and that’s all i really expected it to be or would want it to be.
OUT OF FIVE
This was one where my girlfriend expressed interest in seeing, and i had half forgotten that i’d seen its trailer a while back. As a result i had very little expectations for the film going in and she and i were pleasantly surprised when it was quite good.
It could have easily have been a paint by the numbers crime movie with an irritatingly cool/quirky soundtrack, but thankfully its gimmick (that baby can’t drive without his tunes) doesn’t get old, as it isn’t the sole thing driving the movie. There were some clever twists that we didn’t see coming, some great dark humour from Jamie Fox and others, and most importantly (for the drama) Baby was likeable and believable.
As honestly Ansel Elgort wouldn’t be my first choice in casting a bad ass driver type, as he looks like a complete weenie (look at that picture, ya real bad ass there). It’s the same sense of trepidation i get when Ryan Gosling is cast as some kind of bad ass, but i was thankfully proven wrong here in Baby Driver.
The movie’s one real misstep (and it’s a big one) is that the action scenes (more than i’d hoped) degenerate into the usual post 2000 over cut mess. The opening car chase in particular i had a bit of trouble following, as well as the 2nd car chase/shootout. It’s simply necessary for me to be able to follow action in an action movie, if i can’t then i honestly say it fails in what it sets out to do in its biggest sequences.
Overall though Baby Driver was fun, which is exactly what a summer action flick should be, certainly worth a look for anyone clamouring for a good heist movie; and definitely for anyone with a penchant for 70’s tunes.
OUT OF FIVE
THE DARK TOWER
In the build up and release for this film i had heard it generated a lot of negative reaction from fans; the why was a question i wasn’t interested in answering, as it likely stemmed from the sort of insufferably insular reasons that come from any fandom.
I’m also not a big fan of Steven King, as i’ve never actually read one of his books. But a buddy has, and wanted to get my layman/outsider perspective on the material. I was content just to let the movie pass by, but it did have a cool catchphrase in the trailer and Matthew Mcconaughey in that sort of deliciously evil role that every actor craves, so off we went.
From my layman perspective the movie works just fine, adding fuel to the fire that you should never listen to fan’s gripes about any adaptation of a beloved work and just see the movie for yourself. Surprisingly there’s very little sequel baiting here in The Dark Tower, which i expected considering the serialised source material, and the obsession with franchises and shared universes in Hollywood. Though considering it’s abysmal box office numbers, i doubt anyone is talking about a sequel seriously.
Idris Elba and Mcconaughey have a good chemistry together (The kid is forgettable whatever his name is), and it helps that Mcconaughey is biting into the role with relish as it certainly helps (like a good villain does in these types of movies) in making the otherwise paint by the numbers story pass by smoothly. The large scale shootouts however lack a good deal of lasting flair (the rating might be to blame, though it might just be the unimaginative choreography), filled with done to death acrobatics and slow motion as if it was trying to impress with a bag of tired tricks.
Overall the film left me satisfied, it was decent if a bit mundane and i didn’t feel ripped off of money or time. It also ended things nicely which goes a long way to ease my frustrations. As for fans however; my buddy brought me up to speed on why fans were moaning about it, and i can definitely understand the reasons. However i can still recommend it to someone who is curious (fan or uninitiated), who has an hour and a half to spare/waste.
OUT OF FIVE
WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT
This wasn’t a film i saw in theatres (i missed that boat by a year before i was born) but i saw it and it left a big enough impression on me for me to want to give it some mention.
I must’ve last seen this movie in ’92/’93, and i’ve always remembered parts of it. Particularly the parts that had Christopher Lloyd screaming while he is slowly run over by a steam roller… Which highlights to me what a strange movie it is, as it really is a movie that only could have been made when it was. Licensing wise it has Disney and Warner Brother characters sharing scenes together, as it came before the release of “The Little Mermaid” and Disney’s subsequent financial resurrection.
Other head scratchers are a cartoon baby slapping a woman’s ass, and Roger jumping out of woman’s cleavage (to my memory), and other scenes and attitudes that would have the outrage culture of this day and age blowing head gaskets. Again i must talk about Judge Doom, and i won’t mince words: He’s fucking terrifying. There’s a reason i remembered him, like a dark shadow at night, i mean watch this shit (spoilers btw):
Everything about it is god damned disturbing, and the fact that i watched this in daycare at the age of 5 or so without running out of the room is shocking.
Apart from all of that however, i just don’t find the movie to be overly engaging (apart from its great SFX work). Roger is incredibly annoying, the humour has its moments but i didn’t really laugh all that much, and it’s filled with a love for an age of cartoons that i just have zero nostalgia for. As a result It feels insular in its appreciation, and it fails to drum up the same universal excitement that Raiders of the Last Ark did.
If you can find a copy (due to licensing issues it’s hard to find lying around), you might enjoy it but me i fine not watching it again.
OUT OF FIVE