Monday, December 3, 2018

Tag

***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! You're "It!"



Tag – 4 out of 5

When I heard about the true story that inspired this movie, I realized that my life just isn’t reaching the level of potential for fun as these gentlemen are achieving.  Imagine, playing a single game of tag for decades with your best buds.  Their real-life adventures are cool enough but adapting their story into a film has tons of potential for hilarity.  So, does Tag live up to that potential?  For the most part, it does.

Ed Helms dressed as an old lady fighting Hawkeye.
Stop drilling, Tag, you've struck oil!

Friends Hogan “Hoagie" Malloy (Ed Helms), Bob Callahan (Jon Hamm), Randy “Chili” Cilliano (Jake Johnson), Kevin Sable (Hannibal Buress) and Jerry Pierce (Jeremy Renner) have been playing tag every May since the early 80s.  During that time, Pierce has never been “It” and Hoagie has made it his mission to finally end that streak.  Pierce is on the verge of getting married and this seems like the perfect opportunity for the men to strike.  However, as they return to their hometown, they re-learn why Pierce has never been “It” before and it seems his skills have only gotten better.

Play this for full effect.

With the simplicity of its unique concept and a charisma rich cast, Tag really resonated with me and I had a lot of fun watching it.  The humor is never too vulgar and, instead, relies heavily on satire and slapstick in order to sell the gags and bits.  For example, the film heavily parodies the action genre and films like Predator and Point Break for sequences when the crew is attempting to make Pierce "It."  It is in these action/comedy moments that the film is at its strongest and most amusing.  The product does carry a lot of little funny moments and one-liners but it is in these action spectacles that I found I was laughing the hardest and having the best time.

He makes you "It" through the power of his handsomeness.

Another aspect that really made the film strong for me is the cast.  You already have proven funny players in it like Helms, Hamm, Buress and Johnson but you also have Renner who is delivering a funny role and you also have Isla Fisher playing Hoagie’s wife and she is just hysterical.  Add in some great comedic actors filling in supporting roles and you have no shortage of people who know how to supply humorous scenes.  Adding to this, as well, is the fact the core members all have some great chemistry together and make their fictional friendship feel palpable and real.

I really like Jake Johnson.  The man is hysterical in everything I see him in.
I want to be his friend.

Concerning drawbacks, I didn’t find many.  Replay value might be a little low on this one and there are sequences of the film that feel like they are dragging.  Ultimately, however, the one real drawback I saw was in the character of Rebecca Crosby (played by Annabelle Wallis).  She plays a reporter who is originally doing a piece on Bob Callahan’s character but once she finds out that he’s involved in this game, she decides to report on that event instead.  She has some amusing moments and her character never really feels like it gets in the way but I can’t help but feel like her character could have done more and been more integral to the action.  As it stands, she felt a tad superfluous.

However, any drawbacks are fixed due to the presence of Buress.

Tag is a fun idea that delivers entertainment in a stylized action/comedy format and fills it with satire and a great cast.  It has some minor drawbacks but nothing that hurt the overall fun factor of the feature.  Now, if you’ll excuse me, I really want to play tag.  I say this before the traumatic memories return and remind me that, because of my tubby body, I was always “It.”

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Action Point

***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! Based on a true story...kinda.




Action Point – 2 out of 5

I’m an unapologetic fan of Johnny Knoxville and the entire Jackass crew (well, not Bam Margera, he’s not my cup of tea).  It’s easy to write off what these guys did as “stupid humor” because, well, what they did was insanely dangerous and incredibly dumb but there was this strange fearless quality about the whole product that I engaged with and found hysterical—sure, the laughs were usually in-between bouts of sympathy pain but the laughs were there.  Since then, I’ve watch Knoxville in all forms of entertainment he’s taken—whether they included bodily harm or not.  I was pretty excited to see him doing his usual shenanigans all over again with Action Point and my hopes for it were pretty high.  Sadly, it didn’t live up to the exact product I was hoping for.

Knoxville can still do this at the age of 47.  I'm ten years younger than him and
if I stub my toe I'm done for the day.

Quality father/daughter time.
While babysitting his granddaughter, Deshawn Chico “D.C.” Carver (Knoxville) tells her the tale of Action Point.  When he was younger, he owned what was considered the most dangerous amusement park in the country.  The rides were rickety, the staff was usually intoxicated or untrained and the whole vibe of the place screamed injuries galore.  As his estranged daughter Boogie (Eleanore Worthington Cox) comes to visit, a competing park opens and threatens the survival of Action Point.  As he attempts to reconcile his relationship with his daughter, D.C. decides to lean into the bad reputation of the park and go for broke with a place that truly has no limits.

Fire hose streams to the crotch probably should have been a limit, I think.

Loosely based on the real-life insanity of the park of the same name, the film had some potential and is not without its fair share of moments.  It’s still amazing/incredible/horrifying to see Knoxville still decimate his body with nutso crazy stunts and these moments are genuinely amusing.  However, the thing that held this movie bad is some of the performances and the overall narrative and plot.

We've all had that little voice in the back of our minds telling us to crotch-punch
a theme park mascot.

"I can't hear you.  My corn dog is getting terrible
reception."
While, for the most part, the performances are serviceable and never out-right bad, there’s no denying that some of the performances are not the strongest.  Not to call out Jackass alumni Chris Pontius directly but some of his scenes weren’t exactly the best.  He has genuinely great and humorous moments but he also has a lot of questionable reactions in many scenes.  However, I will say that I really enjoyed Knoxville in the film.  While he isn’t giving a commanding performance that will be recorded in the history books, he does show he has the chops to be a decent actor when the call is made.

He should have stuck to his strengths...like wearing tearaway pants and partying.

The real killer for this film is how it can’t quite get the balance right for its narrative structure.  Essentially, the film is telling a story and throwing in Jackass-style stunts.  It’s the same formula that was used in Bad Grandpa.  However, too often the story moments just feel like they were loosely chained to the stunts and never does anything truly feel connected.  It ends up making the story parts boring and distracting and ultimately gives the whole product a feeling like the whole thing was just thrown together at the last minute after some stunts were filmed.

My back needed aspirin just looking at this scene.

Action Point has moments of enjoyment but it’s wrapped up in a messy package that feels slapped together.  Too often the fun parts are sandwiched between boring sequences that often feel like they exist only out of obligation and it made for a viewing experience that often felt like homework.  I really wanted to like this one more but ultimately was fairly unimpressed with it.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Life of the Party

***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'm the opposite of the life of a party.  I'm literally the death of a party.  The fun time stops when I arrive.



Life of the Party – 2 out of 5

I really like Melissa McCarthy.  I think she’s incredibly funny and endlessly charming.  When she is in a film, her presence alone convinces me to see the feature.  Sometimes it results in a great and very funny movie (yes, I liked the Ghostbusters reboot, haters) and sometimes it’s not as great as the film could be.  I really wanted to like Life of the Party but ultimately found this one to be a kinda forgettable comedy that does mean well but just can’t provide the goods.

Chris Parnell is in this film.  That man is treasure.

After her husband divorces her and leaves her for another woman, Deanne (McCarthy) is left on her own and struggling to find her way.  With her daughter; Maddie (Molly Gordon), freshly dropped off at college, she decides now is as good as time as any to go back to school and finish her education.  However, she soon learns that school isn’t what she remembered it being and is now struggling to fit in with her daughter and her daughter’s friends and finding love with a much younger man.

Ha, her mom loves her.  What a nerd!

The premise to Life of the Party is pretty simplistic but has the potential for hilarity.  Additionally, it has a great cast.  Finally, the tone of it is on the more lighthearted, more innocent side and doesn’t go for the more outrageous or adult tone that it could go.  It has all the ingredients and this film should have been a decent movie but it just failed to resonate with me.

Just looking at them and you can tell they are the antagonistic girls of the story.

The film is never really doing anything particularly wrong.  The story is solid and has a great pace, the actors are all given great performances and the humor isn’t particularly bad in any sense of the word.  Overall, the film just didn’t capture my attention.  There are plenty of times where I giggled at the feature, I found McCarthy incredibly charming like I always do and genuinely enjoyed the developing relationship between her character and the character of Jack (played by Luke Benward).  However, all the enjoyment I got from these elements just weren’t at high enough levels to make this a winner in my book.  It’s serviceable and never boring but not the greatest example of a comedy lead by the delightful Melissa McCarthy.

If this was an 80s college comedy, there would be a lot of sexual assault happening
and the film would act like it is okay.  Seriously, re-watch those movies and
try not to feel absolutely gross as you do.

Life of the Party, at its most basic level, is serviceable.  It’s never boring and its humor isn’t cringe-inducing but it’s never attention-grabbing or uproariously hilarious either.  The humor is fine in concept but too often felt like it was too good natured and like it was playing it safe rather than going for the laugh.  It’s carried mostly by a great cast and Melissa McCarthy’s undeniable charm but it lacks that certain spark to make the film standout like some of the other work that McCarthy has been involved with.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

***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'm sad there was no Dino Royal Rumble like in the last film.



Jurassic World:  Fallen Kingdom – 3 out of 5

I was obsessed with Michael Crichton in my junior high and high school years.  I read all his books, sought out every movie that was adapted from his novels and must have read Jurassic Park at least three times (that really doesn't sound like a lot but considering I don't re-read a lot of books it does say a lot).  His science fiction works spoke to me but none more than Jurassic Park.  The idea of a park where dinosaurs were cloned?!?  Insert the Fry from Futurama meme that declares you should take all my money.  The movie was amazing and, I’ll admit, I’ve enjoyed every sequel since (although, nowhere to the degree of the OG).  I wanted to see the latest in the new trilogy; Jurassic World:  Fallen Kingdom, when it was out in theaters but didn’t get to.  So, I made a gamble and blind bought in when it was released on Blu-ray.  I don’t feel like I completely wasted my money but I sure don’t feel like I got my money’s worth.

Behold! The best thing in this movie! 
(That's not a dig at the film.  Jeff Goldblum is just that great.)

Baby Blue somehow makes this whole movie
worth it.
After the events of the last film, the theme park/dino zoo; Jurassic World, lies in ruin and the dinosaurs have taken over the island.  However, the dormant volcano the attraction was built upon is ready to blow and the lives of the extinct animals hang in the balance.  John Hammond’s former partner; Sir Benjamin Lockwood (James Cromwell), and his aide, Eli Mills (Rafe Spall), enlists Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) to help relocate the creatures; in particular, the Velociraptor Blue.  With the help of Owen Grady (Chris Pratt), a former park technician named Franklin Webb (Justice Smith), a paleo-veterinarian named Zia Rodriguez (Daniella Pineda) and a team of mercenaries hired by Mills and led by a big game hunter named Ken Wheatley (Ted Levine), Claire returns to the island but soon learns that ulterior motives are at play and they are betrayed.  It seems that Mills is working with a former Jurassic Park scientist and is looking to sell the dinosaurs on the black market; including a new genetically created monstrosity called the Indoraptor.

"I'm a recycled plot point!"

Ted Levine basically is playing an evil version of
Pete Postlethwaite's character from The Lost World.
I’m not going to say I didn’t like Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom because I did enjoy it but I have to say that it is one of the weaker additions to the franchise—and that says a lot due to the existence of the third film and The Lost World.  In fact, speaking of the second film, Fallen Kingdom (which sounds like a title of a Transformers movie) feels like the production was just trying to redo that film.  The most basic elements of snatching up dinosaurs in the name of greed, having another big game hunter and releasing the creatures into civilized world are all here.  Granted, there are tons of differences that makes it stand out on its own but it’s hard not to compare the two.  It makes me wonder what parallels will be created for the third film in this trilogy and how it will compare to the third film in the last trilogy.

The damn thing is smiling.  Is this a Looney Tunes cartoon?

Fallen Kingdom attempts to make the world of this franchise bigger and bring it beyond the island.  In a sense, I respect that but I can’t say that I’m a huge fan of how the growing mythology is developing and the direction it is going.  Aside from the ending ushering a ton of potential plot issues, the film seems to allowing the series to drift rapidly away from the arguably grounded nature of its initial science fiction story and seems to be aiming the ship towards a more exploitation, B-movie premise arena.  While I’m okay with this in terms of overall entertainment value, this path often feels cheap at times.  

A high-pitch scream for comedic effect in an otherwise
intense sequence...and then he took a pie in the face from the dino.
It was an odd choice to say the least.

This moment may seem cool but they're really just
yelling, "I know you are but what am I?" at each
other.
There are definitely some cool moments in the film, some great laughs along the way and, even with its problems, the ending promises potentially cool new developments in the next film.  I loved how well they mixed the animatronic, practical effects with the computer effects and the performances were great.  I will admit that Chris Pratt kinda/sorta looked like he wasn’t feeling this one at times but, overall, I think everyone was fantastic in the film.  Jurassic World:  Fallen Kingdom isn’t as ground-breaking or as aesthetically cool as the initial film is and it doesn’t quite have the same fun factor that the last film had.  It’s serviceable and never outright horrible but it sorta falls in line with the awkwardness of the 2nd and 3rd films.

Gnarly, brah!