Saturday, December 31, 2016

Mortdecai

***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've got nothing to add here.  Since this is being posted on New Year's Eve I'd wish you a Happy New Year but I don't know when you're reading this so I'll just say, "Have a great day!"



Mortdecai – 1 out of 5

While I do enjoy many of his movies, Johnny Depp isn’t a name that automatically gets me up and gearing to see a movie.  His films and his performances are always a bit hit-or-miss for me.  That being said, when I first saw that trailer for Mortdecai, I thought it looked a bit amusing but not enough where I would drop everything to watch it. Then it came out and proceeded to be eviscerated by the critics and bomb terribly at the box office.  Not that these facts swayed my decision about watching it but it certainly influenced my drive to view it.  Even after it came out to rent I still put it off but with time to kill thanks to the holidays I decided I would check it out and see if it was really as bad as the critics said it was...and boy was it!

Even the presence of Jeff Goldblum couldn't help this film.  Goldblum isn't like life
and he just can't find a way sometimes.

Based on the first novel of the Mortdecai series, Charlie Mortdecai (Depp) is a charlatan and an art dealer who gets enlisted by Inspector Alistair Martland (Ewan McGregor) to help find a stolen piece of artwork.  It seems the art holds a secret to a delectable treasure and it seems some angry Russians and terrorists are out to find the piece as well.  Alongside his wife; Johanna (Gwyneth Paltrow), and his manservant/bodyguard/holder of an absolutely terrible pun name; Jock Strapp (Paul Bettany), Mortdecai sets out to find the stolen work.

With as many flops this man has been a part of and somehow still remains a well-paid
leading man who gets consistent work, he must have made a deal with the devil.
Other actors have disappeared into nothing for less.

I always see people in various movie groups I’m in talk about how they “don’t listen to the critics” like it’s a badge of courage or something.  Since I consider myself a wannabe critic, I absolutely listen to the critics and I acknowledge that I don’t have to agree with them.  I’m endless curious how others experience films and how these experiences differ from person to person.  With every movie I watch, I check out the critical consensus on Rotten Tomatoes and see where I stand in comparison.  Did I agree with the majority of the critics, do I disagree?  Sometimes it’s dead-on with the consensus and sometimes it’s way, way, way, WAY off.  Mortdecai is one of those cases where I absolutely agree.

Olivia Munn is in the film, shown here imitating the face I made the entire the time
I watched the movie.


When I watched the trailer and heard the reviews, I thought there’s no way this movie could be as bad as the critics are saying.  I mean, the film has a great cast and kinda looks like it has a Pink Panther vibe to it.  I love all the adventures of Inspector Clouseau so when I sat down with it I predicted that I might find this one mildly entertaining and find some things about it funny.  I was wrong because this movie is very boring and terribly unfunny.

Don't read too deeply into the placement of a screencap of Paltrow following the words
"boring" and "unfunny."

I will admit that I found some parts of the film to be amusing—for example, the character of Jock is responsible for the best parts of the film and was a fun character that proved to be too good for the movie.  Hell, I’ll even add that there are some decently constructed action moments in the film that are pretty fun and capture the action comedy genre but the majority of the film, however, was painfully awkward.  Too often, the humor comes in the form of strange punch lines added to the end of scenes and these moments rarely added anything to what you just saw and rather than end the sequence on a high note (or in the case of Mortdecai, end the scene on a passable note), it ends the scene with a moment that made me say, “That was the best they could come up with?”  I always say comedy is subjective but the humor in this film just felt so lackluster and almost like the production just wasn’t putting the effort in.

Even with his stupid pun name, Jock is a damn awesome character.

As if a lack of effort was a theme for the film, the story just didn’t feel that interesting or even a remotely compelling mystery.  Who stole the art?  It really didn’t matter to me because the film’s plot has absolutely no sense of urgency and the reveals and the “Who Dun It?” is presented in such a mediocre way that I found I could not get invested in anything the story was doing.  In fact, the whole story just feels like it is just take a leisurely stroll through its plot and it made for a film that didn’t really feel tedious but was a long, long way from being engaging.

This film did make me really want to see a Star Wars Anthology film where we see
McGregor reprise his role of Obi-Wan and show his days on Tatooine.

The final issue I had with the film is Johnny Depp’s performance.  For me, Depp is an actor who is either perfect and amazing in the role he’s cast for or just feels wrong for the part and comes off way too cartoonish.  The latter is definitely the case this time around for me but it’s even worse as his cartoon-esque performance as Mortdecai doesn’t match the reality that the character exists in nor does it blend very well with the other characters.  To put it another way, every character is slightly embellished but Depp is doing it to a degree where it is more distracting than entertaining.

A part of me thinks Depp gets to be so over-the-top in so may movies is because he knows
that no one can kill his career as long as Tim Burton still lives.

Mortdecai has some funny moments, has a great character in Jock, and the film actually has some really great editing and scene transitions but it has too many problems overshadowing these few good elements.  Aside from painfully unfunny gags and jokes and a story that feels lethargic and boring, the film also has the odd reality that it is rated R but never feels like it really needs to be.  Yes, there’s a couple of F-bombs but, aside from that, the whole film feels like a PG-13 film.  Overall, Mortdecai is just a completely forgettable movie that offers very little in the entertainment department.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

The Bronze

***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've got nothing to add here.  2016 has been a long year and I'm exhausted.




The Bronze – 3 out of 5

I’ve seen the trailer for The Bronze over and over and over again.  Not because I’m constantly YouTube-ing it or anything but more because it is constantly in front of the other movies I am watching on DVD.  I kept saying that it looked funny and I will have to check  it out but, for one reason or another, I never rented it but still continued to see it in the trailer section of the DVD’s I was checking out.  Finally, I decided I can take no more and I have to breakdown and finally give it a shot…and it wasn’t too bad.

U-S-A!  U-S-A!

The rude, crude bronze medal gymnast Hope Ann Greggory (Melissa Rauch) has been living off of her achievement for a long time in her hometown of Amherst, Ohio but, after her estranged coach commits suicide, her father (Gary Cole) informs her that the last wish she wanted was to see Hope coach a new prize athlete in town; Maggie Townsend (Haley Lu Richardson), and see her go for the gold—and it didn’t hurt either that there was a promise of a large sum of cash involved.  Now Hope, alongside her assistant coach Ben (Thomas Middleditch), is out to help Maggie achieve her dream but that all may be sideswiped by Hope’s former love interest and gold medal winner Lance (Sebastian Stan); who hopes to steal her away and coach the prodigy himself.  

I should put a Winter Soldier reference here but I got nothing.

Gary Cole will always be in my heart because of
Lumbergh.
The immediate thing you will notice about The Bronze (and it’s something the Red Band trailer emphasizes) is the shocking nature of the comedy.  Melissa Rauch (who also co-wrote the film with her husband) compiled a story with jokes that definitely made my jaw drop often but also really worked.  Not to mention, there’s a bit of a shock to the system of seeing the girl who is known for being the gal with the squeaky voice on The Big Bang Theory spit out some curses and vulgarity that would make a sailor shit their pants in surprise.  However, the comedy just doesn’t stop at swears because there are some well-constructed gags that go beyond vulgarity and are actually pretty witty and creative.  In fact, this movie is really funny and all the performers do a great job of making the comedy in this feature work.  The only problems come from a tone that sometimes feels uneven and some character development difficulties.

Why don't we see Thomas Middleditch in more movies?
That dude is hysterical!

Maggie is actually high in this picture but I just
realized she looks more like she's a corpse.
While this movie is clearly a comedy at heart, it does want to inject some heart and emotion in the film as we see why Hope is so ornery and why she holds so tightly to her past glory.  The problem that comes with this is there’s no real balance to the dramatic and the comedic parts and the tones very clearly shift depending on what approach the particular scene is taking.  This robs the film of its momentum and often causes the build-up the comedy has provided to come crashing to a sudden stop.  The movie also has a big problem with development and the characters never feel like they have a gradual change and growth but rather sudden bursts of alteration when it fits the plot.  For example, Hope is a horribly mean character for most of the film and it takes till pretty much the end of the movie for her to have her turn around and redemption.  Sure, there are hints and glimpses that she’s starting to understand that her attitude is wrong but these glimpses come with a transition back to how she acted to prior to all this and it makes for her real-deal change of heart feel kinda forced.

For her first feature length film as a writer, honestly she didn't do that bad.

The Bronze is not a deeply flawed movie but rather a comedy that has some minor issues with it.  When this film gets its formula right it is fantastic and I laughed liked crazy.  When it missteps, it’s a small hiccup or a fleeting moment of boredom.  However, that being said, I don’t see much replay value in this movie as it feels like a “one and done” type of movie; one where you check it out and then move on.  Although even with its problems it’s a pretty entertaining and wickedly vulgar comedy that has its heart in the right place.

Lights Out

***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 bummer that no one said, "Lights Out, motherfucker" to the ghost in this movie.



Lights Out – 3 out of 5

No matter how old you get, we’ll always have a small fear of the dark.  The dark represents the unknown, the things we can’t see hidden from our view and the mystery of what is out there can be terrifying.  Sure, as you get older the darkness doesn’t quite freeze you in terror they way it might have when you were a kid but there’s still something inherently creepy about the dark.  Lights Out plays off that fear.

Here at Horrifying Scary Movie Locales and Nightmare Inducing Mannequin Storage
we will have needlessly dark locations for your movies and scary mannequins
to make you hate life!

After her stepfather is found dead after mysterious circumstances, Rebecca (Teresa Palmer) learns that her little brother (Gabriel Bateman) has been seeing a haunting figure hiding in the shadows.  When she tries to shield her brother from this fear and her mentally unstable mother (Maria Bello), she is shocked to discover that the figure is real and can only be kept at bay if they stay in the light.  Alongside the man she’s dating (Alexander DiPersia), Rebecca stays in her mother’s home to try and fight the angry spirit but is horrified to learn that shadow-dwelling monster is connected to her mother and even has been in her family since her childhood.

This kid has an intense stare.  I'm kinda surprise he couldn't just intimidate
the ghost.

Lights Out is an adaptation of a short of the same name (which you can watch here)You have probably already seen as it went viral a couple of years ago and hundreds of click bait websites stole the video (and gave no credit to the creator) and put it under headlines like “Scariest Video Ever” or “You Won’t Believe This Video” or whatever other click bait headline you always see.  The short is simple and very effective (although I find the end of it to be pretty silly) and shows that sometimes horror works endless better as a short.  It’s hard to stretch scary premises into feature length films without coming off as repetitive or like its dragging.  Hell, I’ve seen original horror films suffer from this and thought that they would have worked a lot better as a short (like It Follows.  I thought that movie was boring and would have been a lot better as a 15 minute short).  Lights Out definitely has some issues and isn’t quite as memorable as the short but it does utilize some neat tricks when it concerns light and shadow.


I'll be honest, if this happened to me I would run in the opposite direction and
not stop until I'm in the next state or die from exhaustion.  I'd rather the running
killed me than some shadow ghoul.

This movie doesn’t waste much time with development or reveals.  The film is not even an hour and a half but it ends up feeling like it is both perfectly utilizing its time while simultaneously moving too fast.  The reveals of who this ghost character is felt like it arrived too early in the film but, by the same token, the movie never feels like it is intentionally padding itself so it never really drags.  This is one of the film’s strongest aspects (even thought it's a bit dichotomous) that its presentation is 100% no nonsense so it’s never hampered by the shortcomings that hurt so many modern horror films and momentum never slows or comes to a halting stop.

I realized they're being terrorized but the longer you stare at her scared face
the funnier it becomes.

"Check out these high beams!"
I could have wrote some great one liners for this film!
(Great in my mind)
The film also plays excellently with light and shadow.  The ghouls’ attacks and the way the characters use various lighting apparatuses to stop her are really unique and pretty creative.  These moments, while never really scary or terrifying, are still very cool to witness and create some neat visual moments.  For example, there’s a part where the ghost attacks a cop and the officer tries to shoot her and you get to see her appear and disappear as the muzzle of the gun flashes.

Just goes to show you that this story needed a good shadow ghoul with a gun.


It's amazing that in 2016 we still see mental illness
played and portrayed the same way when we under-
stand it deeper than we used to.
The elements that harm the film stem mostly from the mother character and a lack of decent scares.  Like so many horror films that arrive in this era, there’s no real sense of atmosphere at play and the film doesn’t do much to put the viewer in the action.  Combine that were your run-of-the-mill jump scares and you have something that, in theory, looks no different than everything else that is released in the genre of horror.  The only reason this stands out is the unique visual moments I mentioned earlier.  Finally, the film is slowed down by the character of the mother.  She’s connected to the monster of the film (which is fine) but this connection isn’t developed or played upon well enough (especially considering how important their connection is during the final conflict) and the performance of Maria Bello isn’t too commanding.  This element of the film desperately needed a little more care and attention and it probably could have happened with only adding a small amount of time to the running length and done so without killing the momentum the plot has.

"I can fly!  Oh no wait, the ghoul just disappeared.  I can fall!"

Lights Out definitely offers up some cool visuals and, more importantly, never gets boring.  With the exception of Bello, the performances are good and the characters are developed well enough but the movie is bogged down by a lack of quality scares and horror atmosphere and some plot points that really needed some more care and development.