Monday, August 22, 2016

Legend

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion (or other commenters), that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching! Finally, a movie about that thing that gives you information on the symbols on a map.



Legend – 3 out of 5

I’m a pretty big fan of Tom Hardy.  Ever since I first saw him act I’ve been captivated by the man’s seemingly unending talent.  I’ve watched this man do so many different roles—everything from a Batman villain to a mix martial artist—and each and every time I’ve been blown away by him.  I’m not even sure if there is a role on the planet that he can’t dominate.  So, naturally, I was sold when I saw he was going to be playing a pair of twin brothers in Legend.

Seriously, I can't think of a role that he wouldn't decimate!
Next up for him:  God.

Based on the novel The Profession of Violence:  The Rise and Fall of the Kray Twins, Legend follows the story of two brothers during the 1960s and their rise to prominence in the world of organized crime.  There’s Reggie Kray (Tom Hardy), a former boxer who is forging his path in the criminal underground of London, and Ronnie Kray (also Hardy), Reggie’s twin suffering from some psychiatric disorders.  After Reggie is released from the mental institution, the two combine forces to rule the criminal underworld.  Problems start to get in the way, however, as Reggie finds love with a young woman who wants him to go legit named Frances Shea (Emily Browning), an investigation from Scotland Yard is hot on their heels and Ronnie’s psychotic violent tendencies start to take over.

He's asking for Grey Poupon--I'm timely with my jokes!

The most notable element of Legend is the absolutely astounding performance of Tom Hardy.  I mentioned in my opening paragraph that the dude keeps flooring me with his ungodly amount of talent and this film is definitely no exception.  Hardy really made both Reggie and Ronnie two completely different people but, at the same time, really showed that these two mobsters are definitely related.  It was pretty awesome to watch.  Finally, with the help of some seamless integration—never was there a point where it was clear there was special effects or a stand-in involved—, having the both on screen at the same time (and even fight each other physically at one point) really sold the fantasy of it all and helped make having a double dose of Hardy really something to watch.  Sadly, the rest of the film doesn’t live up to the grandeur that this incredible actor brought.

Two Hardys fighting.  I'd pay to watch that for an hour and a half.

Remember when she fought a giant samurai
with a gatling gun in one of Zack Snyder's
fever-induced wet dream movies?
I don’t want to sound like Hardy was the only saving grace in the cast because that is simply not true.  He’s without a doubt the most memorable aspect of the film but the rest of the supporting players are all contributing excellently.  The problem that stems from Legend is that I didn’t see the film flowing very well.  The story isn’t chaotic or making very big leaps but it definitely feels like it is making a few skips here and there in order to get from Point A to Point B and it made it hard for me to completely invest in the action and conflict.  These matters aren’t assisted at all by the fact that too many characters and situations feel underdeveloped.  While there is plenty there to understand what you are seeing and get the basics of the people and the plot points there just wasn’t enough for me to get emotionally invested in it all.

How did the Kray's not get caught earlier?  Scotland Yard employed The Doctor,
for crying out loud.

Legend, for the most part, is a serviceable feature that tells the story of too interesting criminals.  Sadly, it doesn’t quite tap into that interest the way it really could have and it ended up making for a feature that is more about the performances than it was about the story.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Creed

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion (or other commenters), that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching! I could never be a boxer...mostly because I wet myself and cry whenever I'm struck by anything.



Creed – 4 out of 5

Boxing isn’t really my cup of tea.  Now, I know the few loyal readers I have and people who know me personally are saying that this isn’t really news worthy because I’m not a sports guy and you definitely have a very valid argument.  However, of all the sports that sport, boxing is probably the lowest on my list of sports—even below curling and competitive eating.  Even though my very un-active self doesn’t dig this shining example of athletic prowess and knocking people’s brains around, I’ve always enjoyed the Rocky films.  While they aren’t my go-to films for entertainment, every time I’ve watched them I’ve been engaged and entertained—even slightly motivated to get in shape (although, that never lasts long).  So, does Creed stand victorious in the middle of the ring with its hand raised high in the air or did this one go down for the count?  (Almost like my stupid hack line I ended this paragraph with.)

I'm going to get my ass kicked for that lame pun question, aren't I?

Adonis Johnson (Michael B. Jordan) is the illegitimate child of famed boxer Apollo Creed.  He never met his father and spent his childhood years in and out of youth facilities.  One day, he’s taken in by Creed’s widow; Mary Anne Creed (Phylicia Rashad), and it’s from there he sets out to make a name for himself in boxing—but strives to do so on his on and not on his father’s name.  When he’s old enough, he packs up and leaves L.A. for Philadelphia in hopes he can train with his father’s best friend and best rival; Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone).  Reluctantly, Rocky agrees and along the way Adonis starts dating a singer named Bianca (Tessa Thompson).  All seems well and his training seems to be on the right course until fate steps in and Rocky is sidelined with illness and a troublesome fighter named “Pretty” Ricky Conlan (Tony Bellew) discovered Adonis’ past and seeks to meet him in the ring.

Remember when the internet freaked out with Jordan being cast as the Human
Torch in Fantastic Four and he ended being one of the best things about
that awful movie?

Essentially, Creed is a sequel, a spin-off and a reboot all rolled into one.  It’s simultaneously continuing Rocky Balboa’s story, bringing new life to the franchise and forging a new path with a character stemmed from one of the franchise’s icons.  On the surface, it seems like just another sports movie and just another Rocky film but it’s a pretty ambitious feature.  Had this film failed, it would have been considered another example of “unoriginal Hollywood making a mad dash for easy cash by churning out another remake/reboot/sequel” but this film feels so much deeper than just another addition to this established franchise.

On any other man, that hat would look dumb.  But not on Rocky!

Granted, this film hits all the notes you know that are going to be hit when you sit down with it but when you combine absolutely tremendous performances from Sly Stallone and Jordan and combine it with some stellar directing from Ryan Coogler you are treated to a sports film that is inspiring, emotional and exciting.  Additionally, the film has some absolutely incredible camera work during the actual boxing matches that really puts you in the heat of it all and makes you feel the gravity of what Adonis is going through and the legacy that he is trying to live up to but, at the same time, start to forge his own.  It really came together for a beautiful rendition of what a sports film is supposed to be and something that belongs in the legacy of the other films.

I'm not even going to ruin this great pic with a dumb joke.

They should have called him "Intense Eyed Stare"
Ricky Conlan, amirite?  (That was awful.)
The only downside I had with the movie is that I wasn’t too thrilled with the development of the man who would be Adonis’ opponent in the climactic battle; “Pretty” Ricky Conlan.  While he’s developed serviceable enough where you understand he’s a hothead and a bit cocky and he’s antagonistic enough where you want to see him lose against our hero thanks to the press conference scene where he’s talking his crap but, in the end, he never felt that strong of an obstacle for Adonis to climb--not as strong as Adonis' desire to be his own man.  While it’s still a momentous occasion when he fights him and the outcome brought me to very, very manly tears (that’s my story), I still felt like the character was terribly one-dimensional—especially when you concern how dynamic and real everyone else felt.

Yeah!  Sting like a butterfly and float like a bee or something!

Overall, Creed is just a killer addition to the Rocky franchise but, at its core, it’s a stellar sports drama filled with heart and character that could have easily existed on its own merit--which is a nice parallel to the titular character.  The film looks good, the cast is absolutely astounding and the whole thing is just exciting and inspirational.  It’s what a film from this franchise is supposed to be…and it does so as it passes the torch on to a new generation!

Monday, August 15, 2016

MIdnight Special

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion (or other commenters), that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching!  Never does this film shine a light on me.  Not even it's ever ever-lovin' light.



Midnight Special – 4 out of 5

There were a couple things that struck me the moment I saw a TV spot for this film:  Number 1) It was written and directed by Jeff Nichols (No, not the comedian that had a movie made about him and I reviewed his book over at The Robot’s Pajamas—rather the man that gave us the amazing Mud), Number 2) It has Michael Shannon in it and I’ll see anything that man is in—he’s just so damn talented, and Number 3) It puts the song of the same name in my head and has me singing it endlessly.  So, anyway, now that I’ve gotten around to watching Midnight Special was the ear worm of a song it ended up burrowing in my head worth it?

It is for Shannon's intense staring.

Alton Meyer (Jaeden Lieberher) is a special child with some mysterious abilities.  His father; Roy Tomlin (Michael Shannon), with the help of a man named Lucas (Joel Edgerton), steals him away from a cult that believes the child to be their savior and tries to get him to a certain place by a certain time and date—specified entirely by Alton.  The group meets up with Alton’s mother; Sarah (Kirsten Dunst), but are soon followed by not only the religious cult trying to reclaim him but the government as well.

It's kinda nice seeing a WB movie that contains superhuman powers actually
end up pretty decent.

Midnight Special is quite an amazing film that looks terrific, has some amazing special effects and has a fantastic cast that are all doing an absolutely fantastic job; however, the film can easily be labelled as boring to potentially many viewers (including my girlfriend who was very irritated with the film).  Was I bored with it?  No, but I won’t deny that this film will not work for everyone watching it.

Ah yes, sterile white rooms.  Somehow creepier than a dark, decaying room.

What's he looking at?  One of the many mysteries
this film has to offer.
The story doesn’t waste time throwing you into the mystery of Alton’s abilities and where the group is going.  The reveals come slowly and very methodically and it leaves the very real potential for everything to drag.  There is an occasional moment of excitement as things get cracking into high gear—for example, when a mysterious shower of space debris that might have been caused by Alton (no Spoilers, for ya) ends up destroying a gas station or the moments when law enforcement or the cult converge on the group—but, for the most part, the film is a slow burn tale that is all about discovering who Alton is, where his powers extend to and come from and what is so significant about the location they are getting to.  This methodical pace is perfectly mirrored with simple but effective music that only enhances the quiet intensity that is this film’s tone.  From my perspective, I was very impressed with the pace that writer/director Jeff Nichols set and it really left me completely hooked and engaged to see where everything was going. 

Spoiler Alert:  It's just frozen poop falling from the International Space Station.
 

If there is one thing I didn’t like about the film is the fact the story is developed enough that is really nails the mystery of it all but lacking enough that it had me wanting more and wanting more desperately.  I wanted to know more about the cult that held Alton, I wanted to know more about the relationship between Roy and Sarah, I wanted to know more about how Lucas got involved with everything and I wanted to see more of the government agent; Paul Sevier (Adam Driver), who was assisting in the investigation—that last one I’m not sure if it was because I liked the character or because I love Adam Driver as an actor and just wanted to see more of him.  As it stands, I think the story and plot are developed fantastically but I won’t deny I definitely wanted to know additional information about the characters and their history.

I just like this dude.

Midnight Special is a damn fine movie.  The story is super engaging, visually the film is stunning and the performances are incredible.  Sure, there are elements that left me wanting more and the replay value is definitely not high on this for me but I can’t hold that against the film too badly.  Overall, it’s just a very impressive and enthralling film.