Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Sonic the Hedgehog

***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.  If you ask who would win in a race, Flash or Sonic, I am prepared to not care about your answer.




Sonic the Hedgehog – 4 out of 5

I played a lot of Sonic the Hedgehog games when I was younger.  In fact, I still do because my Sega Genesis is still operating.  I was never clamoring for a movie adaptation but one went into production and the release of its first trailer was…not taken well, to say the least.  The design of Sonic was met with anger and ridicule so, supposedly, the studio went back to the drawing board and had the special effects redone for the whole film—bankrupting a special effects studio in the process.  I also say “supposedly” because I don’t fully believe that Paramount listened to the fans’ outrage and decided to redo the movie.  It smells an awful lot like a PR move and that the initial trailer with the “ugly design” (which, realistically, wasn’t as horrifying as the reactions would suggest—it wasn’t great but I think people went a little overboard with that one) was rushed to market in order to drum up some publicity.  I think the game accurate design was always going to be the final design and the studio just wanted to make some headlines and make the audience feel like they were listened to—but that’s just my low-key conspiracy theory.  Despite the initial outrage, I was interested in the film because Ben Schwartz was the voice of Sonic and I love that man.  Also, it looked like it could have been a bit of a fun one.  Well, I hit the theater and saw Sonic the Hedgehog and, you know what, it is pretty damn fun!

                                                                                                                Paramount Pictures
I won't argue that this was a good design but considering the history of video game
adaptations this could have been a lot worse.

                                                                                                Paramount Pictures
A gold ring?  Call me when they're onion!
Sonic (Schwartz) is no longer safe on his home planet due to his supersonic running abilities.  At the behest of his guardian, he is given some rings that will help him teleport to safe worlds.  Using the rings, he finds himself growing up on Earth in the small town of Green Hills, Montana.  There he spends his time reading comics, playing games and watching the town’s residents from afar.  After he accidentally causes a blackout across the entire Pacific Northwest, the military sends in robotics expert and genius Dr. Robotnik (Jim Carrey).  Robotnik discovers the existence of Sonic and now will stop at nothing to eliminate him but Sonic has a friend in the form of the sheriff from Green Hills; Tom Wachowski (James Marsden), and he is out to help the speedy hedgehog escape to a new, safer planet.

                                                                                                                               Paramount Pictures
Sure he caused a massive blackout but at least he isn't messing up time.
I'm looking at you, Barry Allen!

Video game adaptations do not have a great history.  Sure there is the rare one that actually works in its entirety and there are the ones that have some moments where it worked but most are just bad.  Also, sorry not sorry, Mortal Kombat is not one of the adaptations that works.  It has its moments but, for the most part, it wasn’t that great and it doesn’t age well…but, at the very least, it is way better than its sequel.  The reality is, it is not easy to adapt a game because, like in the case of Sonic, not all games have stories or mythologies can be converted to movies and, if they do, their translations can be a touch silly.  Sonic the Hedgehog isn’t adapting any of the games but taking elements and crafting a story to them and the end result is something incredibly fun.

                                                                                                                Paramount Pictures
Somewhere there is a fanboy making a 20 minute video or posting a long rant on Twitter
about how his childhood was ruined because Robotnik didn't look like this the whole film.

At the risk of sounding reductive, Sonic is basically playing it safe.  The film goes for simplicity when it concerns story, Sonic’s origin, and for the ensuing central point of conflict.  Hell, the film doesn’t even go for game accuracy when it concerns the look of Dr. Robotnik but this never hurts the product.  The film isn’t bogged down by anything overtly complex with Sonic’s mythology and focuses rather on the buddy action comedy aspect of his adventure with Wachowski.  Essentially, this film feels like a small step in the progress of making video game adaptations work because it felt like the focus was getting some of the core aspects right rather than being a slave to the game’s canon.  After this was done, the film throws in lots of nods and references to the games and the whole thing ends up feeling like a decent and entertaining adaptation of a game that is basically just a blue character rolling in a ball doing loop-de-loops and bouncing off the top of robots in order to destroy them and save the little animals inside.

                                                                                                                Paramount Pictures
They look like they just watched Super Mario Bros.

Putting aside my theories that the original “ugly” design of Sonic was just a rushed trailer in order to get some press on the pop culture websites, Sonic looks great in this film and the special effects on him are very convincing.  Sometimes CG characters may look great but never truly feel like they are a part of the environment but this didn’t have this drawback at all.  Sonic very much felt like he was there and all the performers did a tremendous job of selling the reality of looking, talking to, and overall interacting with a CG blue hedgehog.  Ben Schwartz also does an absolutely killer job of bringing the character to life with his voice acting.  I’m a big fan of Schwartz because of his energy and humor and he brings that to the character terrifically.

                                                                                                                 Paramount Pictures
I hope this film gets a sequel because I'd watch another one and I wanna see
Schwartz get more money playing Sonic.

James Marsden does a great job at being Sonic’s straight man and partner in this adventure.  He compliments the character both in comedy and action and there is some sweetness to the bond they form.  Jim Carrey is back to old form as Robotnik as he is playing the character very physically and hammy.  At first, it was a bit cheesy to see him basically play Robotnik as something akin to Ace Ventura but as the story progresses and we see the darkness and outright evil side of the character he started to grow on me and I really, really enjoyed the performance.  Carrey was able to somehow find the right balance of being comedic without robbing the character of how menacing he can be—and menacing in a PG way where he isn’t insanely dark but also still has a threat level to him.  After a while, it started to become refreshing and fun to see Carrey return to this over-the-top physicality that initially made him so popular.  Carrey’s performance was, without a doubt, a very commanding one.

                                                                                                                Paramount Pictures
The mustache was shockingly flexible as well.

Sonic the Hedgehog might not be the prophesized feature that will bring video game adaptations into their glory and have the same impact on the market and Box Office that comic book adaptations do but it certainly is a refreshing and lively feature in this particular genre of films that usually fester in the realm of shadows and disappointments.  The performances are great, the humor is amusing (but sometimes cheesy when the film tries to be hip—it is super cringe-y when Robotnik’s assistant calls an army Major “basic”), and the action is fast-paced and exiting.  Critics have stated that it lacks originality and, I will admit, the story isn’t complex and doesn’t offer much in the way of surprises but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  The product that is delivered is entertaining, colorful, and a lot of fun.  The product knew exactly what it needed to be and it delivered on that with a very high degree of success.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

***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.  It truly is a beautiful day in the neighborhood.



A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood – 5 out of 5

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again:  Mister Rogers was a treasure to this world.  As a child, I watched his show constantly and now, as an adult, I can truly appreciate the beauty and positivity he brought to the world.  A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood takes this impact he left on people and the world and explores it through a fictionalized version of a real-life encounter a journalist had with him…and it was a very moving experience.

A wholesome man playing the quintessential wholesome man.
It was meant to be.

In the late 80s, Esquire writer Lloyd Vogel (Matthew Rhys) is assigned to do an article on Fred Rogers (Tom Hanks) for an issue they are doing on heroes.  Vogel is an incredibly jaded writer who is dealing with some issues with his estranged father (Chris Cooper) and thinks Rogers is all an act and not genuinely the good-natured, wholesome man he portrays on television.  However, as he interviews and gets to know the man, he starts to see the world differently and will find his entire life changed due to his time with Mr. Rogers.

Next interview Steve Irwin and then Bob Ross and then LeVar Burton and just talk
with every wholesome person to ever exist!

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood is a terrific exploration of the impact a single person can have on another’s life…but, in this case, that single person was Mr. Rogers.  So, that’s almost like God herself speaking to you and telling you things are great.  The story is moving and emotional without feeling sappy or overbearing with its drama and it resulted in something that really resonated with me and stuck with me after the credits were done.  Doing a feature like this about Mr. Rogers could have easily resulted in something incredibly cheesy but the product stayed absolutely true to the tone and form of what Mr. Rogers brought into this world and delivered a product that is dealing with some real and relatable themes and delivering them in an unblinking but never uncaring way.

"I'm not leaving here, Lloyd, until you agree to be my neighbor."

The performances in this film are top notch.  Matthew Rhys perfectly captures the evolution of a jaded and cynical man who lets go of the things that are bothering him and forgiving those that have wronged him.  Not to mention, watching him struggle with the fact he is surrounded by people who adore Fred Rogers while he doesn’t understand the appeal was fascinating to watch.  Chris Cooper was also very engaging to watch as the estranged father who tries to get back into his son’s life.  His own development as an individual who feels he’s entitled to being forgiven to a man who believe he doesn't deserve forgiveness added to the film’s heartwarming and dramatic tone.  And, finally, you can’t NOT talk about Tom Hanks as the icon himself.

This film could have shown Fred Rogers healing Chris Cooper's character with a magical
touch and I would have 100% believed it was true to life.

I can’t imagine it would be easy to take on the role of Mr. Rogers.  The man is a living legend of kindness and love and to try and fit into his sweater is going to take a lot.  Realistically, Tom Hanks is one of the only people who could do the role justice (his son played Rogers on Drunk History but that was more for the laughs).  Hanks is as close to Rogers-level wholesome as you can get right now so it really was a no-brainer to have him play the character.  What I enjoyed the most about it was the fact Hanks isn’t trying to do an impression of Rogers but rather capture the core of who the man is and bring that to life.  Did he sound and look exactly like Rogers?  No, but I never questioned it because he nailed exactly the type of man Rogers was and it was easy to believe he was the icon.

"And the tag on the sweater said, 'Whosoever holds this sweaterif they be worthy,
shall possess the power of Mr. Rogers.'"

The final thing that really resonated with me with A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood is the pacing.  Mr. Roger’s show wasn’t a wild, fast pace series that entertained your children through bright colors and chaotic activities but rather it had this mellow and methodical pace to it.  It went against the grain of how people thought children’s education/entertainment television should be.  This movie matches this formula and what you see if a film unfold with all the gentleness and care that Mr. Rogers brought to his show.  Not only is this interesting because it captures the feel of Fred Roger’s show but it also really allowed the development to take its time and it helped show the depth and dimension of Vogel’s journey as he can to terms with his personal emotions and his viewpoint of Fred Rogers.

Play "Free Bird"...please.

My only real complaint about the film is the story incorporates a couple of dream sequences that felt a touch out of place when compared to the tone and atmosphere of the rest of the film.  These sequences aren’t bad because they do show the frustrations, torments, and overall confusion that Vogel is going through but they do feel a tad strange for a feature that is about a man’s life changing after meeting Fred Rogers.  In the end, ultimately, this was a minor complaint that did very little against my overall enjoyment and love of this film.

I guess if you're gonna have a delusional trip you could do worse than the Land of Make Believe.


A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood tells a story that is…well…beautiful.  It’s a wholesome (that word was used a lot in this review, wasn't it?), heartwarming film that explores the impact a single (but iconic) man can have on another man’s life.  The performances are great and the whole product just captures the very core of who Mr. Rogers was and what he did for the world.  The whole thing just made me feel warm inside and made me tear up with happy tears.

Ford v Ferrari

***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.  It's a battle to the death!



Ford v Ferrari – 4 out of 5

Cars.  I know very little about them.  I know the basics like the pedals that make it good vroom vroom and stoppy stop.  I can put gas in them and, if absolutely necessary, can change their oil and their tires.  Beyond that, I can’t tell you much about them but cars in movies and movies about cars are certainly cool!  Recently I checked out Ford v Ferrari and it fit that description of being cool.

Now this is podracing!

In the early 1960s, at the behest of Ford’s Vice President; Lee Iacocca (Jon Bernthal), the car company decides it wants to beat the living daylights headlights out of Ferrari in the 24 Hours of Le Mans race after the company decides to not sell itself to Ford.  Henry Ford II (Tracy Letts) tells Iacocca to get their racing division onboard and the first thing they do is hire racing expert Carroll Shelby (Matt Damon).  As the prototypes start, Shelby brings in racer and friend Ken Miles (Christian Bale) to be the driver—much to the displeasure of senior executive vice president Leo Beebe (Josh Lucas).  After Ford decides against sending Miles to the race, the company loses the event.  Shelby, ultimately, doesn’t give up hope and continues working and ultimately gets a faster car for Miles to drive as the company returns to France for a rematch.  It’s Ford versus Ferrari on the blacktop!

I have to say this about Lucas, he is really good at playing the antagonist that you absolutely
love to hate.

Ford v Ferrari is your typical underdog story that showcases an American car company rising against the adversity of those mean European car manufacturers and showing them what for!  I’m teasing, of course, because this movie really doesn’t come off very jingoistic (if it was directed by Clint Eastwood, it would have been a different story) but rather just an exploration of your basic sports drama themes like determination and dedication.  While this film doesn’t look like your typical sports drama or hit the usual beats of these type of genre films, it does hit the right notes that are expected of these types of stories and it delivers it in a very entertaining, engaging and satisfying way.  The story is also able to translate the races into some very exciting moments thanks to top notch sound editing and camera work and special effects that put you right in the race.

"Maybe if I put flame stickers on the cars...will that make it go faster?"

That posture for listening to the radio will just result
in a neck cramp.
This one has two very talented men in the lead and Damon and Bale do not disappoint.  I will say this though, Bale definitely overshadows Damon.  That isn’t me saying that Damon is bad or unremarkable in his performance because he is doing great as Shelby but Bale is a very commanding actor who has this unique body language that he crafts for all the characters he plays and it is hard to not pay more attention to him and what he is doing when he is sharing a scene with anyone else.  It doesn’t strike me like someone who is attempting to steal the attention away from others but rather it feels like he has this very defined idea of who he is playing and it comes out just as much in his non-verbal communication as it does his line readings.  Additionally, the supporting cast is great and really adds to the product.  Jon Bernthal, Josh Lucas, and Tracy Letts are all doing a great job at bringing the story to life.  Finally, I really enjoyed Caitriona Balfe and Noah Jupe as Ken Miles’ wife and son.  Jupe does a great job as a son who is scared to death of his father getting hurt and Balfe has some great chemistry with Bale and provides some amusing moments as Mollie Miles.  I kinda wish they were a little more prevalent in the story because at times they just felt like stakes for Miles’ arc and were used as plot devices to cut to in order to keep the tension high but, overall, I did enjoy what they brought as performers.

"Come on, friend.  Let's get a car and I'll drive at you very fast and you can see if
you can jump over the car before I hit you."

You kinda know exactly what you are getting when you sit down with Ford v Ferrari but that’s not necessarily a bad thing (also, it's based on a true story so history is a bit of a Spoiler for this tale).  I found the film undeniably entertaining and the cast to be incredible to watch.  Add in some exciting racing and driving sequences and killer sound editing and the feature proved to be quite the film to watch and a lot better than I anticipated it to be.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Birds of Prey

***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.  The Christian Mockbuster of this is Birds of Pray.



Birds of Prey – 5 out of 5

Despite the fact that I enjoyed the overall experience, there was no denying that Suicide Squad was a messy movie.  From the fact they had a writer/director who isn’t very good at melding genres to a shitty choice in Joker to the fact the film basically became a completely different product during its second half, the film is undeniable sloppy.  Ultimately, the two best things to come out of it was Viola Davis as Amanda Waller and getting to see Harley Quinn be realized in a live-action film—and played awesomely by Margot Robbie.  Well, Robbie is back as Quinn for Birds of Prey, or Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) or Harley Quinn:  Birds of Prey or whatever the title has become since the production started and it is crazy fun!

                                                                                                             Warner Bros. Pictures
They're here to chew bubble gum and kick ass.  They have plenty of bubble gum, FYI.
A lack of one doesn't negate the other.

After the battle against the Enchantress, Harley Quinn (Robbie) sees her life change as the Joker breaks up with her.  Without having the criminal to protect her, a lot of people are ready to make her pay for the treatment they’ve received from her, including the gangster Roman Sionis (Ewan McGregor).  In an effort to save her skin, Harley agrees to help find a diamond that was taken from Sionis and is currently in possession of the young pickpocket named Cassandra Cain (Ella Jay Basco).  However, Sionis double-crosses Harley and puts a bounty out on Cain’s head and, after Harley finds Cain, ends up being put in the crosshairs all over again.  To make matters worse, Harley starts to bond with Cain and doesn’t want to see her hurt by Sionis so she ends up teaming with some of Sionis’ enemies; a singer/kickass fighter named Dinah Lance (Jurnee Smollett-Bell), a rogue detective out to bring down Sionis’ empire named Renee Montoya (Rosie Perez) and a mysterious vigilante with a dark past named Huntress (Mary Elizabeth Winstead).  Now, together, they are out to stop Sionis, his army, and his sadistic henchman; Victor Zasz (Chris Messina).

                                                                                                            Warner Bros. Pictures
"Mmmmf mmmmph ffffssssmmmf."

I honestly wasn’t too excited for Birds of Prey.  The DCEU has been such a mess that I have found my excitement for their projects to be waning.  I think a lot of that has to do with Batman v Superman and just Zack Snyder’s overall involvement in the shared universe.  I was crazy excited for Batman v Superman but the film was such an incredible letdown and Snyder is not a good enough storyteller to give justice to superheroes.  Yes, I liked Man of Steel and thought his approach to Superman was cool but BvS had so much damn potential that was ultimately wasted on a guy who is really only good at creating trailer-worthy moments.  Since then the DCEU has knocked it out of the park with the likes of Wonder Woman, Aquaman and Shazam! but I just wasn’t pumped for Birds of Prey.  Yes, the trailer looked great and I definitely wanted to see it but, kinda like Shazam! it wasn’t imperative that I go see it in the theater—unlike the MCU, which keeps me addicted and makes me desperate to see all of their products.  I definitely wanted to see this one but was going to accept I would probably just buy it when it hit Blu-Ray (fear of seeing Jared Leto return as that awful Joker certainly wasn’t helping things—even a cameo would have been unbearable).  However, the sudden drive to see the film in the theater hit—plus, 5 dollar Tuesdays rule at the theater!  I'm honestly glad I changed my mind because this is another win for the DCEU.  So, what makes it something akin to Wonder Woman and not down in the mud with the Martha Scene.

                                                                                                             Warner Bros. Pictures
Not to be all Spoiler-y but that sandwich in front of Harley wrapped in aluminum
foil looked amazing in the film and I haven't stopped thinking about it.

The story to Birds of Prey has a lot going for it.  First off, it really captures the eccentricities of the character of Harley Quinn and her universe.  It’s not afraid to be quirky, goofy and fun.  Additionally, it’s not afraid to get mature and graphic with its violence.  It’s able to capture this unique blend in a way that few DC products are capable of ever achieving.  If you are a regular reader of my blog, you would know I hate when DC tries to be “mature” because their definition of it is basically what a 14 year old boy thinks is “mature.”  It always involves over-the-top violence, thinking saying the F-bomb brings gravitas (think the silliness of Titans and the “Fuck Batman” part, if that doesn't scream an adolescence trying to be a "big boy"...) and that the female characters are sex objects first and heroes or villains in a very distant second.  This movie is able to by-pass this as it is an R-rated film that has all the mature stuff but doesn’t feel like it is actively trying to be an R-rated film so they can prove they are adults.

                                                                                                             Warner Bros. Pictures
Remember to spay and neuter your hyenas.

Speaking about the violence, this film has some tremendous action sequences.  Harley isn’t a metahuman in the DC world and doesn’t have powers but she can fight so the feature doesn’t have a lot of big action set pieces.  The action is smaller and contained to mostly hand-to-hand combat (until Dinah reveals her Black Canary sonic scream) and the choreography is amazing!  The fight scenes look like a brutal dance as Harley spins, flips and cartwheels her way around and jazzes it up with some broken kneecaps and bashed skulls.  Add in some flashy flair in the form of some slow-mo and it results in incredibly satisfying fight scenes.

                                                                                                                             Warner Bros. Pictures
To make Black Canary's scream cooler, it was the high note part of the song "Loving You."

Another element I really enjoyed was the costumes and sets.  Snyder’s view of the DCEU is all darkness and warehouse districts while Birds of Prey and its director Cathy Yan shows that Gotham City and the DCEU can also be colorful in its griminess.  The overall look of Gotham is this interesting take that is wildly eccentric and beautifully colorful at times but also cartoonishly dingy at others.  While this takes away from a grounded reality that other films in the DCEU have established, I found the overall aesthetic of Harley’s Gotham to look and feel like it was lifted directly from the DC comics.  This amusingly insane and chaotic look is also terrifically captured in the costumes of the characters.  The outfits that both Harley and Sionis rock alone are worth the ticket price of this film because they look amazing.

                                                                                                            Warner Bros. Pictures
Harley getting over the breakup is the type of energy we all need in 2020.

Finally, the cast in the film is tremendous.  Everyone seems to know exactly where to fit into this film in order to create a tapestry of attention-grabbing performances.  Robbie has the unpredictable nature of Quinn down perfect, McGregor has this delightful mixture of being wildly over-the-top and terrorizing, Chris Messina is downright threatening as Victor Zsasz, Smollett-Bell has the sultry, kickass siren down as Black Canary, Winstead is very intimidating as the vigilante Huntress, Perez has the dedicated cop down flawlessly, and Ella Jay Basco has this perfect blend of being a victim of her upbringing but also being a fun brat as a small-time criminal.  Everyone completely nailed their parts and everyone really brought the film’s world to life in vivid and entertaining ways.

                                                                                                            Warner Bros. Pictures
"I mean, it's a pretty cool knife, right?"

The only drawback I have for the film is I felt Huntress wasn’t as feathered out as much as I hoped she would have.  Her inclusion ends up working in the end but I couldn’t help but feel like, for much of the story and even her big reveal, felt a touch like it was tacked on at the last minute.  Additionally, I really wish this film would have seen the complete and utter erasure of Jared Leto’s Joker.  If you’re a fan of him sorry not sorry because I thought he is literally the worst Joker to ever exist and it would have made this film epic if not only Harley got over her breakup with him but literally murdered him.  *Sigh* Oh well, though, it didn’t happen.  Hopefully if the Flash’s film Flashpoint ever gets made and released it will result in someone better becoming the Joker…and fixes the crap Snyder did.

                                                                                                            Warner Bros. Pictures
Or maybe I just wanted to see more Winstead because I think she's great?

Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) or Harley Quinn:  Birds of Prey, if you’re nasty or Birds of Prey, if you’re into the whole brevity thing, is a fantastically entertaining film.  It’s able to accomplish what DC fails so often at and that is be an R-rated feature without feeling like the goal was to be R-rated.  It has a fantastic diverse cast and even brings in some representation of the LGBTQ+ community without acting like it deserves a medal for doing so (I love you, MCU, but the whole “openly gay character” on Avengers:  Endgame was weak-sauce) and the film is a colorful visual feast for the eyeballs and an action spectacular for the old brain noodle.  It’s just a terrifically entertaining feature that definitely shows the DCEU is starting to show that it is not only getting its shit together after a very rocky start, that you don’t have to shoehorn Batman into a DC product to make it entertaining, and that it is possible to have a film be both fun and mature without it coming off like it was made by 14 year old boys.

Uncut Gems

***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.  Yeah, there is definitely a porn site called "Uncut Gems" out there.



Uncut Gems – 5 out of 5

My feelings about Adam Sandler are complicated.  I know a lot of people hate him because a lot of his more recent comedies are painfully unfunny (hell, I used to be that way too) but I’ve come to understand that Sandler is, in fact, very talented but chooses when he wants to use it.  Also, I am completely jealous he gets to make tons of money with his friends and essentially goofing around when making said bad movies.  He also has untold levels of creative freedom with these bad movies as studios don't care what he turns in.  With that being said, I was very interested in seeing Uncut Gems because it looked awesome and the buzz was Sadler is incredible in it.  I finally got around to checking it out and it is an amazing film with a tremendous performance from Sandler…but, Boy Howdy, is this film anxiety-inducing.

Furby is back!  In ugly jewelry form!

Howard Ratner (Sandler) runs a small jewelry store in the Diamond District of New York and suffers from a crippling gambling addiction.  He currently owes $100,000 to his brother-in-law/loan shark Arno (Eric Bogosian).  Ratner hopes he’ll strike it big with a rare, priceless black opal he got his hands on and is going to sell at auction.  When he gets it, basketball star Kevin Garnett (Garnett himself) stops by the shop and falls in love with the black opal and sees it as a good luck charm.  After agreeing to let him “borrow” the opal, Ratner ends up in a mad dash to get the opal back so he can pay off his gambling debts.  The only problem is he can’t stop making bets.

In a sci-fi movie, this opal would either be a power source or the egg for alien spiders.

He even once bet against the Harlem Globetrotters!
Uncut Gems is a surprisingly intense film.  On the one hand, I expected a film about a gambling addict to get uncomfortable at times and nerve-racking during other times but this film is basically non-stop anxiety and total nerve annihilation.  I haven’t seen the other films from the directors but have heard that they are known for dealing in films that expertly make the audience anxious.  Uncut Gems is definitely doing this as scenes are absolutely frantic, manic and overwhelming.  The way the story is constructed and built leans heavily into Ratner doing the exact opposite of what he should be doing in order to make things right and is always digging himself deeper.  Finally, the dialogue in many scenes involves yelling and talking over one another in a very real feeling and authentic way.  All of it culminated into a product that really got my heart rate up but not in a bad way.  It felt perfect for the tale, characters, and story and this construction was so solid that I appreciated the visceral emotional reaction it gave me.  This formula helped me get fully invested into the product and, even though it made me anxious the entire time, it still ended up being an incredibly engaging and grabbing piece of entertainment.

Stanfield shows up in a lot of stuff...and I'm okay with that because he is great!

I don't know a thing about sports so initially I didn't
know Garnett was a real basketball player but this
movie showed he might have a new career path when
basketball is done for him.
The hype around Sandler’s performance is spot on, in my opinion.  He really delivers on the character and knows exactly how to portray him as both a victim and a creator of his own misfortunes.  He is doing a lot of stupid things and is, for the most part, a completely unforgivable guy but there still is this base level of sympathy I found I had for him and desperately wanted to see him get his shit together.  Sadler was able to find this balance that made the character very compelling and disappointing at the same time and it only added to the engagement level this film has.  Sandler isn’t the only performer giving off a great performance as you have Idina Menzel as Ratner’s wife, Lakeith Stanfield as Ratner’s business partner, Kevin Garnett as himself, Eric Bogosian as a loan shark and Ratner’s brother-in-law, and Julia Fox as Ratner’s mistress.  All of them delivered.  Basically most of the characters are just exhausted or irritated by Ratner’s shit but it feels real and palpable.  I also can’t overlook how great Kevin Garnett was.  Sure, he’s playing himself but he never felt like he was a one-dimensional addition or looked unbelievable in his scenes.

I realize her problems with her husband are bad but she really needs to let it go.
(Sorry, I couldn't resist.)

Uncut Gems is a film that grabbed me and didn’t release me.  It’s incredibly intense and has just a commanding performance from Adam Sandler.  The only downside is the feature is a bit emotionally exhausting.  The tale never lets up with its intensity and the anxiety it induces is real.  This isn’t a bad thing because it makes the ride very palpable as a viewer but I did need to take some time after it was over and watch something far, far, far less aggressive with its tone and atmosphere when it was over.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

The Full Monty

***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.  The Full Monty Burns.  Excellent!


The Full Monty – 5 out of 5

The Full Monty came out in 1997 when I was a sophomore in high school.  Despite hearing what a great movie it was, I wasn’t too interested in seeing it at the time because I was a dumb high school student.  Over the years this one made it to my Watch List but sorta remained stagnant near the bottom of the list.  Recently, I decided to bump it up and finally check out this critically acclaimed hit.  And you know what?  I really enjoyed it!

I was also inspired by a male stripper poster for my side gig.  In my case, I just threaten
to strip and people pay me to keep my clothes on.

Sheffield used to be a success city that centered on the steel industry but, over time, the industry died up.  Former steelworker Gary “Gaz” Schofield (Robert Carlyle) is now forced to stealing steel scrap to sell with his best friend Dave Horsefall (Mark Addy) so he can afford child support payment for his kid; Nathan (William Snape).  As things start to get real dire, Gaz stumbles upon a club that’s hosting a striptease act and is shocked by the amount of women there.  Gaz decides that they should get some guys together and do a striptease for a nice big payday.  However, as they get their group together, doubt starts to cast over them as they are plagued by confidence issues and the town making them a laughing stock. 

Dummies.  That isn't where hats go.

I really got into The Full Monty and wished I watched it sooner.  The story is simple but primed for humor.  However, as amusing as this film gets, I wasn’t prepared for how serious it got as well with the subjects that it explores.  Besides being a tale about some guys stripping to get some cash, the story explores the hardships of unemployment, a father doing whatever he can to provide for his child, the struggles of the working class and other subjects like suicide, body image and sexuality.   Some of these aren’t explored as deeply as I was hoping they would but the presentation of these thematic elements really helped not only the depth of the story and its central point of conflict but enhanced the characters and made them that much more interesting and sympathetic.  One thing that really struck me was how the film tackled body image as the character of Dave doesn’t feel comfortable taking his clothes off in public because he is overweight and seeing him overcome this in a way that results in something very uplifting and positive spoke to me.  I myself struggle with body image and suffer from body dysmorphia so all of Dave’s struggles hit really close to home.

I hate that I look at his body and say, "I wish I was that kind of fat."

"Let's shake our willies!"
All the performances in the film are great and there’s a lot of talent in the product.  Robert Carlyle and Mark Addy are great as the leads and have a terrific chemistry as friends.  The rest of the dancers; Tom Wilkinson, Paul Barber, Hugo Speer and Steve Hurson, are all fantastic and help make the group unique and entertaining to watch.  The entire cast just does an awesome job of making their characters sympathetic, interesting and fun.  They bring a grounded sense of reality when hitting the drama and an aloof silliness during the comedy and ultimately made for some tremendously balanced performances.

My audition would just me doing The Robot...poorly.

I dragged my feet on seeing The Full Monty for a long time.  That was a dumb move on my part because the film is a terrific piece of entertainment that proved to be as amusing as it was endearing.  The performances are top shelf stuff and the story does a great job at balancing a tone that is capable of being funny when it needs to be and dramatic, emotional and heartwarming when it has to be.  It all comes together for a terrifically entertaining film that ends on such a warm and fun scene.  This really is a great movie!